The assistance of a qualified medical expert witness is vital whether you are defending an institution or medical professional or you are fighting for a plaintiff who has been wronged.
A medical expert witness has several responsibilities. Some of these include examining material facts like lay witness statements and medical records, preparing written reports and statements, creating visual aids and models to help explain their theories, and delivering expert testimony before the court.
A medical expert’s opinions may be based on their academic studies, medical publications, and/or personal experience from working in the medical field. The expert should be able to simplify technical terminology and language so those without medical training can still understand the pertinent details of a case. A medical expert must demonstrate “reasonable medical certainty” when stating their opinions to be considered an expert. The expert must also assist a judge or jury in attaining a more sound conclusion about the details of the case than they would have without the testimony from the expert. Testimonies from medical expert witnesses can be used in a variety of cases.
Medical Malpractice Claims
There are so many types of professionals that can be medical expert witnesses. Sometimes cases require an expert who knows about a specific section of the medical industry. Examples of specific sectors include hospital administrators, department chiefs, medical school professors, physicians assistants, nurses, and hospice care professionals. You may need to have multiple experts from a variety of medical subspecialties.
When working a medical malpractice claim, proving a physician’s neglect will require comparing the standard of care against what the accused physician did or didn’t do. If another physician in the same line of practice, under the same conditions, would have been able to give different care that could have changed the patient’s outcome, the physician would have likely committed malpractice.
Delayed Diagnosis, Failure to Diagnose, and Misdiagnosis
Issues with diagnoses make up a large number of medical malpractice complaints. An estimated 20% of patients with serious conditions get misdiagnosed by their primary care providers. Heart attack, stroke, cancer, thyroid conditions, fibromyalgia, and celiac disease are some of the most commonly misdiagnosed conditions. In cases of misdiagnosis and failure to diagnose a condition, the patient is at a much higher risk of missing vital treatment opportunities. This can result in devastating consequences, significant harm, or even death.
Another common medical malpractice claim is surgical errors, which usually happen because of poor or missed communication. “Surgical errors” is a broad term; common errors include:
- Using contaminated instruments, resulting in infection
- Leaving medical tools or supplies inside the body
- Puncturing or cutting internal organs
- Operating on the wrong part or side of the body
- Amputating the wrong limb
Transplant surgeries are more successful now than ever before, but they are still complex procedures that require meticulous analysis, planning, timing, and execution. Transplant physicians are commonly the subjects of malpractice lawsuits because organ rejection can occur in around 40% of heart recipients and 25% of kidney recipients.
The amount of preventative, rehabilitative, and elective cosmetic surgeries has increased thanks to breakthroughs in medical science. When these procedures don’t go as planned, the consequences can be a disappointment, serious complications, and even death. Claims from complications from plastic surgery procedures are typical regarding lack of informed consent, professional negligence, or breach of contract.
Childbirth Errors and Birth Defects
Claims against OBGYNs, gynecologists, obstetricians, and maternal-fetal medicine physicians make up around 20% of all malpractice cases. Infants and mothers can be victims of malpractice, some types of claims related to childbirth include:
- Prenatal Negligence– includes the failure to recognize serious complications during pregnancy
- Childbirth Injuries- include injuries to the mother or child. Injuries to the mother can be unnecessary c-sections, postmortem hemorrhage, and more. Injuries to the infant can be shoulder dystocia, fractured bones, umbilical cord injuries, spinal cord injuries, nerve damage, and cephalohematoma.
- Wrongful Pregnancy- an attempted termination fails
- Wrongful Birth- parents are not made aware of life-altering birth defects
To be successful, you will have to prove that unavoidable circumstances and previous health conditions did not cause the damages.
Because anesthesia interacts unexpectedly within the body, small errors can cause permanent injury, brain damage, or death. Typically, mistakes happen when a patient’s file is not thoroughly read. Examples of negligence include:
- Not administering the correct amount of anesthesia
- Prescribing anesthesia the patient is allergic too
- Defective equipment
- Improper intubation
- Failure to monitor vital signs
- Not informing patients to follow pre-op instructions
Adverse drug events, or medication errors, can occur in outpatient and inpatient settings. In both settings, errors in communication and failure to review someone’s medical history properly can lead to issues with medications. These issues can include not warning about side effects, failing to account for other drug interactions, and prescribing and/or administering the wrong dose or medicine.
Facility administrators manage drug-abuse treatment centers, hospices, outpatient clinics, and hospitals. They make sure facilities provide proper care, operate efficiently, coordinate facility activities, and act as a bridge between department heads and medical staff. Errors can happen with hiring or supervision of employees, failure to follow facility policies, and communication errors that hinder a patient’s treatment.
Personal Injury Claims
Personal injury is a broad term referring to an injury sustained to the mind, emotions, or body because of an accident caused by another party.
Traumatic Brain Injury
Even though traumatic brain injuries are common claims, medical expertise is required during litigation. The main causes of TBI are falls, car accidents, and firearms.
Neurologists and neuropsychologists are useful experts who can evaluate the extent of the TBI and explain the cognitive impairments that can happen as a result. Depending on the seriousness of the injury, using a life care planning expert can help project the cost of continued care.
Pain and Suffering Evaluations
Some personal injury claims might require the opinions of a medical expert witness to explain pain and suffering and to discuss any life-long implications of the injuries. There are two types of pain and suffering:
- Mental/Emotional- emotional trauma including PTSD, depression, anxiety, fear, anger, humiliation, emotional distress, and more
- Physical- injuries to the body as a result of the incident, that affect the quality of life
Life Care Planning & Disability Claims
Some patients who have endured debilitating injuries or illnesses may need constant care throughout their lives. Permanent disability isn’t just pain and suffering, patients also have difficulty finding work and dealing with income loss over the course of their life. Victims of permanent disability can consult with two primary types of experts:
- Life Care Planner- case management nurse who creates a care plan for the rest of the patient’s life. They must understand the treatments for different medical problems while taking the patient’s needs, wants, and abilities into consideration.
- Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor- helps find steady employment for disabled clients who have gone through career-related difficulties
Contact Dr. McNew at Legal Medical Consulting if you’re in Dallas, TX and you need a legal medical expert witness.