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Your Expert Witness should be Practicing the same Specialty as the Doctor You are Suing

If your medical malpractice case involves a surgical error, is it ok to bring in a pediatrician to testify as your medical expert witness? The answer is no, this is not the route you want to take.

Doctor's Lack of Expertise is Easily Revealed through Cross-Examination

When you file a medical malpractice case, typically you bring in experts who have the same exact credentials or medical specialty as the doctor you are suing. Now, suppose your case involves a surgical error and you bring in a pediatrician as your medical expert, the cross-examination would go something like this:

Lawyer: You are a pediatrician, so you must be treating children.

Doctor: Yes

Lawyer: Is your entire practice based on treating children in your office?

Doctor: Yes

Lawyer: Have you been doing only this for the past 25 years?

Doctor: Yes

Lawyer: Is it true that in your practice, you do not perform surgery, and you have not performed surgery for the past 25 years?

Doctor: Yes, that is true.

Lawyer: Yet here you are before a jury, claiming that you are qualified to tell them, what the standards are for performing this surgery. Is this true?

Doctor: True

Lawyer: In fact doctor, is it true that you have never performed this procedure in your life?

Doctor: True

Lawyer: Yet you still believe that you are well qualified to testify as an expert, in the field of surgery?

Doctor: Yes

From this line of questioning, the lawyer can easily show to the jury that it is incredible and unbelievable that a pediatrician would be qualified enough, who does not do this surgery, should be able to testify about the standards of medical care about this particular procedure.

Therefore, the best practice is to utilize a medical expert who has the same exact specialty as the doctor you are suing. Now, when you have a surgeon on board to bolster your case, the whole cross-examination will be different and much more relevant.

Lawyer: Are you a surgeon and do you perform surgery on a regular basis?

Doctor: Yes

Lawyer: How many surgeries have you performed this week?

Doctor: I have performed 9 surgeries this week.

Lawyer: How many surgeries involving this particular procedure have you done this week?

Doctor: Three with three more schedule, and in fact, I just did two yesterday involving these exact same procedures and techniques.

Your Expert Witness should be Credible to the Jury

When you have a doctor as your expert witness who is the same type of doctor and who operates in the same medial realm as the doctor you are suing, the jury will have a much better understanding of what the medical standards are. This is because your case will have more credibility since you are presenting an opposing view and perhaps a real scenario on how this surgery should have been carried out to the court. Then the jury will be able to assess accurately, whether or not the treatment was appropriate or weather the procedure was done conforming to the accepted standards of medical care.

A doctor who has been doing this procedure for a long time will be able to tell the jury what is the accepted way of performing this procedure, and will be able to point out whether there were any violations of the standard of care in your case.

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