Skip Navigation LinksHome > November 2005 - Volume 106 - Issue 5, Part 1 > Ethical Issues Related to Medical Expert Testimony
Obstetrics & Gynecology:
doi: 10.1097/01.AOG.0000182587.83516.76
Current Commentary

Ethical Issues Related to Medical Expert Testimony

Hammond, Charles B. MD1; Schwartz, Peter A. MD2

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Abstract

The obstetrician-gynecologist who provides expert witness testimony is recognized as an important participant in the medical liability system. He or she must define a standard of care and opine whether the standard has been breached and whether any perceived injury was caused by the breach. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) ethical guidelines insist that the testimony be objective (free from intentioned distortion) and that the witness not assume an advocacy or partisan role. The ethical and professional boundaries of appropriate expert testimony as delineated by ACOG are more restrictive than the legal boundaries. Members of ACOG should be held to more restrictive ACOG guidelines and egregious testimony condemned by ACOG. Prospective peer review, increased judicial review, and testimony banks are other examples of methods to improve the quality of expert witness testimony. Alternatives to litigation for medical liability disputes and further tort reform might also make the system fairer and more sustainable.

© 2005 The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

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