Though doctors cannot be miracle workers, it is reasonable to expect that a doctor will uphold the proper standard of care. It is heartbreaking that some medical professionals are negligent in that duty.
In a medical malpractice case, an expert witness can offer an objective measure of what standard of care a doctor should provide. Many states even require an expert witness in medical malpractice cases. Minnesota does not have this requirement, but most medical malpractice cases in the state do partner with expert witnesses.
What can an expert witness do?
Every medical malpractice case is different. There are a limited number of ways to prove that the physician or medical provider was at fault when there are so many variables involved in a person’s health.
Expert witnesses have the appropriate background to assess what the medical professional should have done in the situation to avoid harm or injury to the patient. They can then outline to the court what the medical professional’s responsibilities are and point to areas where the medical professional on the case may have let things slip.
One of the most important functions of an expert witness is to determine if the patient’s injury occurred directly because of the doctor’s negligence. Even if it is clear to patients and their families what the doctor should have done, expert witnesses’ testimony gives more credibility because they have medical training.
What qualifies someone to act as an expert witness?
In Minnesota, it is up to the court to decide if a particular expert witness is sufficiently qualified to give testimony in the case. To act as an expert witness in a medical malpractice case, the American Academy of Family Physicians recommends that an individual should:
- Hold an active, unrestricted license (ideally in the same medical specialty as the doctor who caused the harm)
- Have current clinical experience in the medical specialty
- Be familiar with the facts of the case and comfortable with any techniques or treatments involved
This helps assure the court that the expert witness’s testimony is trustworthy.