The expert witness: real issues and suggestions

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1995 Jun;172(6):1792-7; discussion 1797-800. doi: 10.1016/0002-9378(95)91413-7.


Medical malpractice lawsuits generally require expert testimony. Defendants and plaintiffs deserve expert testimony that is exacting, accurate, and consistent. A study of four frequently testifying experts was undertaken with review of depositions, reports, and trial transcripts of those experts. Contradictions in claimed medical principles from one case to the next were found and examples were cited for each expert. The review suggested that expert testimony regarding the standard of care may be neither reliable nor accurate for the purposes of judging physician conduct is lawsuits. Presently, no peer review or sanction process has been implemented to ensure accuracy and reliability of expert testimony used in medical malpractice lawsuits. We recommend changes that would include independent court-appointed experts, central filing of opinion letters by experts with authoritative text citations, and a sanction process by courts and/or authorized boards for testimony that is deemed inaccurate, false, or contradictory to the standard of care.

MeSH terms

  • Expert Testimony* / standards
  • Malpractice / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Peer Review