In short, a medical expert witness or drug therapy expert witness provides independent, objective assistance in legal cases and is described as “one who has made the subject upon which they speak a matter of particular study, practice or observation, and must have particular and special knowledge of the subject.” (Stroud’s Judicial Dictionary, 7th Edition)
There can be several reasons for consulting an expert witness. One reason is to have a knowledgeable person act as an adviser and advocate. In this type of situation, the client is looking for someone with particular and special knowledge, and they are looking to that person to help develop or advance a particular argument on their behalf. Another role of the expert witness is to assist a court decision maker (judge, jury, etc.) with specific information about their specialty area so that an appropriate legal decision can be made.
A medical expert witness or drug therapy expert witness must be able to examine the material facts of the case, as well as prepare written statements and reports, and provide expert testimony before the court. The expert should also be able to explain scientific, technical language and terminology in lay terms so that someone without any medical training can understand the key issues of a case.
Sometimes, a case requires a medical expert witness who has experience in a particular area of the medical industry, such as infusion therapy or hazardous drug exposure. In these instances, it is helpful to find a drug therapy expert witness with appropriate licensing, experience and expertise such as a pharmacist, hospital administrator, nurse, etc. For example, according to the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants, a legal nurse consultant applies the “knowledge acquired during the course of their professional nursing education and clinical experience to the evaluation of the standard of care, causation, damages, and other medically related issues in medical- legal cases.”
A medical expert witness must be satisfied that the information they present is accurate and complete. The factual information underlying any opinion must be based on actual knowledge or an identifiable source of information. The opinions the expert expresses should be the expert’s own, formed independently, and not the views of either the client or of any other person. Where an expert witness is being asked to express a view about the actions of another professional or specialist, then the expert witness must also understand the correct legal test which the court applies to that professional or specialist’s acts.
The primary obligation of medical expert witness or drug therapy expert witness is to provide the judge or jury with information that is independent, impartial and objective – this requires that the medical expert witness not to be selective in the materials drawn upon to support the conclusions reached, and to take into account any matters which might be contrary to that conclusion. In contrast, a drug therapy expert consultant, may be hired by an attorney to provide technical and strategic assistance in preparation for a case, especially in cases involving hazardous drug exposure. The drug therapy xpert consultant works with the attorney to examine the case information and to develop strategies for strengthening the client’s position and challenging the arguments of the other side. The primary obligation of the expert consultant is to the attorney and client who hired them. However, like drug therapy expert witnesses, medical expert consultants have an obligation to maintain scientific, clinical and ethical standards that are above reproach. Obviously, these two roles can be somewhat contradictory in their purpose. However, it is not uncommon for experts to be asked to act simultaneously in both of these roles. Therefore, one of the most important tasks for the expert is to define their role and responsibilities with the attorney/client, and have a clear understanding of their most critical duties to avoid a conflict of interest.
If you are seeking a medical expert witness, drug therapy expert witness and/or a drug therapy expert consultant with expertise in hazardous drug exposure, infusion therapy, or in a related area, please feel free to contact us to discuss how our firm can help you with your case.