Medical Expert Witness On Patient Experts

In WHAT A TANGLED WEB WE WEAVE, medical expert witness C. Paul Sinkhorn, MD, FACOG, writes that with the internet, patients have the opportunity to become experts on certain diseases, particularly their own. Tom Ferguson, editor of The Ferguson Report: The Newsletter of Online Health, observes, “A doctor may have a working knowledge of 50 conditions and be able to treat, with some consultation, another 200. A patient only needs to know about one.”

We will be challenged to keep up with our patients’ questions like never before. Sometimes I am relentlessly cross-examined by these Internet-empowered patients. While pleased that they take responsibility for their health care, and remembering the intoxication of newly acquired wisdom, I deplore pop knowledge masquerading as legitimate medical tenet. Internet armed patients’ cutting-edge knowledge creates loftier expectations. Every attorney with Internet access can research all relevant medical literature on a potential medical malpractice case in less than an hour, including multiple medical expert witnesses‘ opinions and immediate analysis of strengths and weaknesses. There’s nothing wrong with that, and medical expert witnesses should welcome better prepared.