The development of professional standards for physician expert witnesses in medical malpractice litigation in the United States has resulted primarily from the efforts of mainstream medicine to improve its performance and from the efforts of governments and courts to enhance the qualifications of physician experts, if not regulate them externally. At the state level, these efforts to enhance physician experts' qualifications have led to rules requiring that physician experts share the same school of practice, practice specialty, and practice, if not the same practice locality, as those they testify for or against. At the federal level, physician experts' qualifications have been enhanced by the Federal Rules of Evidence and the requirement, articulated in Kumho Tire Co. Ltd. v. Carmichael, that experts testify to empirically supported opinions and employ the same standards of professional practice that they use in evaluating medical research and in diagnosing and treating patients. Recently, the American Medical Association and many medical subspecialty organizations have added to their codes of ethics explicit standards for the professional conduct of members who serve as expert witnesses. The same organizations have urged the states to include the testimony of physician experts in their definition of what constitutes medical practice, and some states have also taken this position. These actions should advance the Kumho Tire requirement that physician experts testify with the same intellectual rigor that they employ in their practices. Professional standards may be further advanced through the education and certification of physician expert witnesses.
- professional standards,
- physician expert witnesses,
- medical malpractice litigation
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