When you’ve been injured by a medical professional, their very first reaction isn’t to apologize, In fact, most have been taught not to do that as it can be construed as admitting fault. Instead, you’ll encounter roadblocks to learning the truth about what went wrong. If the harm that you suffered caused permanent damage or will require regular future medical treatment, you may have to resort to proving your case through using various forms of evidence.
One way of accomplishing this sometimes difficult task is by employing the use of expert witnesses who can prove that medical malpractice was the cause of your injury. Experts exist in virtually every area of the medical field and may provide valuable information and insight to use in arguing your claim.
What are the primary categories of medical experts?
Nursing experts. Nurses are the front line of patient care in hospitals. They see the pitfalls and policies that can create a perfect storm when it comes to errors that can injure patients. They know what proper protocol is when an attending physician needs to be notified of a change in condition, or which medication a patient is supposed to receive – or not receive. Nurses are in charge of tracking and managing all of the minutia for their patients and the common practices required for proper monitoring and care.
Some of the experts you may see a need to involve in your case are:
- Nurse practitioners
- Nursing administrators
- Nursing supervisors
Pharmaceutical experts. This group of professionals have extensive knowledge related to clinical trials, drug manufacturing, and FDA compliances. Were you administered an experimental drug without your informed consent? Was a medication used incorrectly or prescribed outside of its intended use? Someone with a background in the rules and regulations of how different types of medications are administered and under what circumstances may play a significant role in bolstering your claim.
Depending upon your specific case, you could benefit from the testimony of:
- Medical researchers
Physician experts. This category of expert is someone with vast experience in the same field as the practice area of the defendant physician. This is important because different areas of medical practice require different bases of knowledge and may use variations of the same standards of care that are only suitable in that particular area of medicine.
Physician experts may typically be:
- Practicing physicians
- Professors of medicine
Radiology experts. Assessing X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, ultrasounds, and other imaging procedures takes a skillfully trained eye to understand what’s being shown on the film and whether the treatment administered properly coincided with the findings on the image. Alternatively, the expert will be able to determine whether the diagnosis based on the image was inaccurate. Another potential area of fault could rest in the radiologist’s knowledge of equipment calibrations and maintenance schedules. Diagnoses are sometimes only as good as the equipment used.
Primarily, the two types of experts required may be:
- Board certified or licensed diagnostic radiologist
- Board certified or licensed interventional radiologist
What does an expert witness do?
In addition to providing an expert opinion and testimony at trial, medical experts delve into your case to find all of the pertinent evidence that only he or she is qualified to speak to. These individuals help to give your case teeth that can result in making a reasonable settlement offer or swaying a jury in your favor that can end in a substantial award to care for you and your family. For families who are dealing with a wrongful death due to medical negligence, this can mean the difference between struggling or financial security when you’ve not only lost companionship, but possibly a primary source of financial support.
Expert witness services involve:
- Reviewing all medical records. Aside from your account of what happened, your medical file is the root evidence that will provide an expert the roadmap to follow to find the negligent acts that have caused your suffering.
- Looking for discrepancies in the duty of care owed to the patient versus the care administered. These variances are important to the basis of your injury claim and sometimes the subtleties in the actions taken in providing medical care can only be sussed out by a trained expert. Depending upon the actions that led to your harm, an expert may be able to determine whether it was an accident or that it was so reckless that it was egregious. This can be an important factor that may play into determining the amount of a financial award by a jury. It can also be used as leverage to potentially settle your case without the need or stress of a trial.
- Weighing the treatment you required against other reasonable options available under the circumstances. Applies the professional standards of the particular field of practice in that locale to your care. Each field within medicine has a rule book, per se, that every doctor in that field is expected to follow. These guidelines are designed with the intent that there is a standard level of care established by which to measure against. What becomes common practice in a particular region or state may deviate from these guidelines, but that still becomes the standard to follow. An expert witness with that specific knowledge will be able to home in on areas where the general rule was thrown to the wayside causing your injuries.