Medical Malpractice Expert Witnesses Part 1

In Physicians giving expert testimony are regulated by law, professional associations, B. Sonny Bal, MD, JD, MBA; Lawrence H. Brenner, JD write:

In civil actions involving alleged negligence on the part of a professional, such as a claim of medical malpractice, expert testimony serves to educate the court and jury on the relevant standard of care to which the professional must be held. Evidence law allows a wide berth for expert witnesses. A person sworn as an expert during a trial can testify based on personal experience and insight; on observation and examination of other evidence submitted at trial; or even on out-of-court observations and knowledge of statements made by others in the profession. Ordinarily, such testimony would be inadmissible as hearsay.

The legal profession has long recognized the limitations of expert testimony. The Supreme Court of the United States clarified the parameters needed to qualify expert witnesses testifying in federal courts in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, a 1993 case in which each side produced expert testimony contradicting the other. Since that case and its progeny, federal judges have had discretion to exclude expert testimony that falls short of standards for reliability, scientific methodology, empirical testing and peer review.

Excerpted from