Medical Expert Witness Guidelines


by Allison Vickers

In cases of medical malpractice, patient harm results from an exercised substandard quality of care. In contrast, medical maloccurrence is defined as one or more adverse outcomes during a medical procedure that are unrelated to the quality of care. To assist judges and jurors in distinguishing whether a case is an example of malpractice or maloccurrence, Expert Witnesses are needed to testify to the standard of medical care. Expert Witness testimony is pivotal to the legal outcome of a medical malpractice lawsuit. For this reason, the qualifications of an Expert Witness are evaluated with great scrutiny.


Various medical societies, including the American College of Emergency Physicians and the American Academy of Pediatrics, have provided guidelines to ensure that an Expert Witness and their testimony are qualified to fulfill this responsibility. At the core, these guidelines promote standard of care testimonies that are impartial, knowledgeable and accurate. The following guideline commonalities were assembled from a variety of medical sources and societies to address these concerns and provide an overview of processes for vetting of a testifying individual’s expertise, testimony, and compensation.




1) An expert must be certified by a recognized certifying body
2) An expert must be licensed in a state, territory, or area of the consulting legal jurisdiction in their medical specialty
3) An expert must be clinically active in their medical practice; if retired, an expert must remain knowledgeable of the current standard of care




1) An Expert Witness’s testimony must be limited to their sphere of medical expertise
2) An expert may lend their opinion only after reviewing relevant medical records
2a. The expert’s review of the relevant medical records must be thorough, fair, impartial and must not exclude any applicable information
3) An expert must be prepared to have any testimony peer reviewed by an institution or professional medical organization
4) The expert should be familiar with the standard of care provided at the time of the alleged occurrence
4a. The expert should also be familiar with the current standard of care
5) An expert should not provide testimony that is false, misleading, or without medical foundation




1) Compensation must be proportional to those customary for the profession and services
2) Compensation that is contingent on the outcome of the litigation is prohibited and considered unethical


If an Expert Witness adheres to these guidelines, they will ensure that you are receiving the best expertise for your case. With testimony from a qualified Expert Witness, your firm will benefit from being able to make more informed decisions, leading to a higher level of profitability.


Please note: This article contains the sole views and opinions of Allison Vickers and does not reflect the views or opinions of Guidepoint Global, LLC (“Guidepoint”). Guidepoint is not a registered investment adviser and cannot transact business as an investment adviser or give investment advice. The information provided in this article is not intended to constitute investment advice, nor is it intended as an offer or solicitation of an offer or a recommendation to buy, hold or sell any security. Any use of this article without the express written consent of Guidepoint and Allison Vickers is prohibited.


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