Medical Malpractice Experts: What You Need to Know
Medical errors are not always blatant. However, you think your case represents the exception. While you may be right, your attorney needs to prove your gut feelings are correct. In New Jersey, this means retaining medical malpractice experts who meet the credential for testifying on the recognized standard of care.
No one wants to hear about any type of blunders when it comes to medical treatment. However, just a few years ago, the news characterized medical error as an “epidemic.” In fact, national headlines proclaimed that preventable medical mistakes represented the third leading cause of death across the country.
The fact that experts are willing to testify about medical malpractice may astound you. After all, aren’t all doctors part of a closed fraternity? Where will you come up with someone to validate your claim? It sounds like an impossible task.
You may find comfort in the fact that it’s not up to you to locate a medical expert. When you consult with an experienced medical malpractice attorney, he or she first reviews your case from a legal standpoint. Does it appear there is evidence of gross negligence or error? Was the mistake accidental?
There’s another part to every medical malpractice case as far as proof of damages. Decades ago, a surgeon amputated the wrong leg of a diabetic. No doubt this case acts as a sad example of gross negligence. Unfortunately, it’s more than apparent that the malpractice victim also suffered damages as a result. He needed to learn to get around on not one, but two artificial legs.
Now that you have a basic understanding of the two essential parts to every medical error case, you may wonder if there are laws concerning medical malpractice experts. Truth be told, your attorney needs to file an affidavit regarding the merits of the claim at the start of any medical negligence lawsuit. There are a few times that an Affidavit of Merit is not necessary.
Medical Malpractice Experts: The Law
The law regarding the requirements for medical malpractice experts appears in NJSA 2A:53A-41. Take for example specialists in a particular field. Perhaps you consulted with a urologist with prostate problems. You are relieved when you’re told there’s nothing to worry about as far as cancer.
The problem is that the urologist made a mistake. If the misdiagnosis means the prostate cancer spreads to your bones or lymph nodes, you may ultimately face a grim diagnosis. Despite what appears obvious to you, another urologist needs to prepare a report and agree to provide testimony that supports those allegations.
The credentials for the medical expert go further. You may have noticed that your treating physician’s business card indicates board certification in a particular area. If your care or treatment involved a board specialty or subspecialist, there are other restrictions on the expert witness.
In the meantime, that’s just the beginning as far as qualifying expert witnesses. Notably, the law prohibits a medical expert from testifying on a contingency basis. This assumes that the expert would only receive payment if the outcome of the lawsuit favored the malpractice victim.
How Medical Experts Come to Conclusions
In determining whether there was a medical mistake, the expert needs to review all of your records, including the following:
- All scans and x-rays
- Hospital records
- Physicians’ office notes and reports
- Laboratory results
Meanwhile, some compare medical expert witnesses to Monday morning quarterbacks. Of course, they can find negligence if they look back. However, medical experts come under scrutiny by defense counsel. There must be no evidence of bias or testimony not based on recognized standards of care.
If you believe that you or loved one is a victim of medical malpractice, the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone can assist you in moving forward with your claim. Take advantage of our three decades representing injury victims. Contact us to schedule an appointment.