Medical Malpractice & Expert Witnesses
Malpractice can be defined as an act or omission by a health care provider
which deviates from accepted standards of practice in the medical community
and results in injury to the patient. Many countries, including the U.S., have
a specific medical malpractice law. Although the term is most often associated
with physicians, medical malpractice also includes the acts and omissions of
any medical care provider, which includes dentists, nurses, and therapists.
Claims may also be brought against hospitals, clinics, or medical corporations
for the mistakes of their employees.
Successful Malpractice Lawsuits
To bring a successful malpractice lawsuit, the plaintiff must typically
prove three things:
- That the provider breached his/her duty of care towards the patient. That
is, he/she failed to do something that a reasonably prudent provider in the
same field would have done under the same or similar circumstances, or did
something that no reasonably prudent provider in the same field would have
done under the same or similar circumstances.
- That this breach caused loss or damage.
- That it is fair and reasonable to hold the defendant liable to pay damages
for the harm caused by the malpractice.
Since most medical providers have malpractice insurance, a case in the U.S.
usually begins as an insurance claim, made by the attorney for the patient.
If liability is admitted and damages can be agreed, the case will be settled
early in order to reduce the amount of costs payable. Otherwise, the plaintiff
will file suit in the appropriate court. Between the filing of suit and the
trial, the attorneys for the parties usually engage in 'discovery', which includes
interrogatories, requests for documents, and depositions.
Medical Expert Witnesses
At trial, the plaintiff has the burden of proof. Expert witnesses are usually
required to testify as to practice standards, while lay witnesses must confine
their testimony to facts they perceived with their own senses. To be qualified
as an expert, a person must have a sufficient level of education, training,
and experience in the relevant field, and it must be shown that their testimony
will assist the judge and/or jury in determining a contested issue. The law
requires that lay jurors or judges, being untrained in medicine, must accept
expert evidence as to whether the provider deviated from the requisite standards
but since the plaintiff and the defendant will usually each hire their own experts,
often there will be quite conflicting opinions.
Finding A Medical Expert Witness
When preparing a malpractice case, selecting a medical expert(s) is probably
the single most important decision that an attorney will make. The impact that
a physician who is knowledgeable, prepared, experienced and personable can make
on a specific case cannot be over estimated. Finding a good medical expert witness
is not hard, there are many online options for this. Typically, in seeking a
medical expert witness one should choose from among those who are actively practicing
and board certified in the specific medical specialty at issue for the particular
What to look for in a medical expert witness:
- an individual with a combination of medical and legal witness expertise
- an individual who is active in clinical practice (thus, unquestioned credibility)
- an individual with prestigious academic affiliations
- Medical Expert Witness Database
- Guidelines for Expert Witness Testimony in Medical Liability Cases
- Detailed listings of U.S. State Medical Boards
Dental Health: An estimated 156 million Americans have dental coverage.
takes a closer look at Dental Health Plans
as well as other important dental health topics. If you are in search
of a good dental health plan, click the link above as we look at the ins
and outs of getting dental health insurance.
Other Sections: Mental Health, Integrative
Important Note / Disclaimer:
The information here at Prescriptions1.Net is intended to supplement,
not be a substitute for the expertise and judgment of a doctor, pharmacist
or other healthcare professional. It should not be construed to indicate
that use of any of the prescription drugs featured here is safe, appropriate,
or effective for everyone. Consult a healthcare professional before you
use any of these drugs. See prescription pictures here.