Guidelines For Ethical Behavior Relating to Clinical Practice Issues in Neuromuscular and Electrodiagnostic Medicine (2015)
Expert Witness Testimony. Physicians, as an act of public interest, are encouraged to serve as impartial expert witnesses in clinical and technical matters regarding neuromuscular and EDx medicine. Expert witness testimony is opinion testimony that may relate to the standard of care, nature and extent of disability, causation of injury, clinical status of the patient, or prognosis. Physicians cannot be required to provide expert witness testimony. An expert testifies either for the person bringing the case (the plaintiff or the government in a criminal matter), the person being sued (the defendant), or the judge. It is important for physicians who act as expert witnesses to remember that transcripts of depositions and courtroom testimony are public records and subject to independent peer review.
The minimum statutory requirements for qualifications for an expert witness in a medical malpractice action should reflect all of the following:
(a) The expert witness should have comparable education, training, appropriate certification, and occupational experience in the same field of expertise as the opposing physician. (b) The expert witness’s occupational experience should include active medical practice or teaching experience in the same field of expertise as the opposing physician.
(c) Some state statutes require the expert witness to be currently in active medical practice; whereas, in most states, the expert witness needs to have been in active medical practice or teaching experience within 5 years of the occurrence giving rise to the claim.
It is unethical for expert witnesses to provide services under a contingent fee arrangement or to link compensation to the outcome of the case. Compensation should be reasonable and commensurate with actual services rendered.
Physicians who provide expert medical testimony should be adequately versed in the medical and scientific issues involved in the matter and, before giving testimony, should carefully review the relevant records and facts of the case and the standards of practice prevailing at the time of the occurrence that gave rise to the claim.
Physicians should testify about the medical records, the standard of care, and any other matter related to the case fairly, honestly, and in a balanced manner.
Physician expert witnesses are expected to be impartial and should not adopt a position as an advocate or partisan in the legal proceedings.