Medical malpractice can have life-altering consequences, and the American Medical Association says that one in three clinicians faces at least one lawsuit during their careers. Expert medical testimony can play an important role in establishing that the level of care fell below the acceptable standard.
This testimony helps the court and the jury understand that no reasonable healthcare professional would have delivered the care that the plaintiff received.
Expert witness qualifications
To provide expert testimony, a medical professional must have extensive qualifications and experience in the same field as the defendant’s health care provider. The court must ensure that the witness is an expert in the relevant area of medicine. Witnesses possess a valid medical license and an impressive track record in the field.
Review of medical records
An expert witness will meticulously examine the patient’s medical records, treatment plans and any relevant documents. This review allows the expert to identify discrepancies, errors or negligence in the patient’s care.
Standard of care evaluations
The expert witness’s primary role is to evaluate the standard of care in the specific medical field. These witnesses compare the treatment received by the plaintiff with the expected standard that any reasonable health care professional should have followed.
Breach of standard
Once the witness identifies the standard of care, he or she must then point out where the health care provider failed to meet that standard. This can involve pointing out specific actions or omissions that deviate from accepted medical practices.
Expert witnesses must also address causation, demonstrating that the substandard care directly caused harm or injury to the patient. It is not enough to prove a breach of standard. There must be a clear connection between the care provided and the harm suffered.
Expert witness reports
Before the trial, expert witnesses typically provide written reports detailing their findings, opinions and the reasons behind them. These reports serve as valuable resources for all parties involved in the case.
In court testimony, expert witnesses present their findings and opinions to the judge and jury. During cross-examination, the opposing party may challenge the testimony.
In some cases, expert witnesses may offer rebuttal testimony to address any new information or arguments. This helps ensure that the court has a comprehensive understanding of the case.
Expert witnesses must convey complex medical information to the jury in a way that is understandable and relatable. They help the jury reach an informed decision based on the evidence presented.
Expert medical testimony is indispensable in medical malpractice cases. This serves justice and promotes better health care standards and practices.