Here at Painter Law Firm, well-meaning, sincere potential clients contact us to seek help and mention that they already have a doctor lined up to support their potential case.
For example, I once represented an attorney client in a case where he felt 100% certain that his treating physician would offer helpful testimony. Even though this doctor wasn’t a party to the lawsuit, I was highly skeptical. I told my client not to hold his breath. My client was shocked when his trusted doctor changed his story at deposition in a way that was harmful to his case.
From my current long-time practice of representing victims of medical malpractice, I also know the perils of relying on treating doctors or local medical expert witnesses. There are a lot of reasons for this. Three are worth mentioning here.
One is that most doctors really don’t like lawyers. I’m not just talking about plaintiffs’ lawyers. They don’t even like their own lawyers. Physicians are used to being in control. Some are uncomfortable at being questioned.
Second, it’s rare to find a local physician who will testify in favor of a patient in a medical malpractice case against someone from the physician’s same locality.
For some doctors, it’s just not good for business. There is a complex network of referrals, where physicians of one specialty refer their patients to other types of specialists.
Other doctors are just uncomfortable at the potential discomfort or confrontation. As a former hospital administrator, it’s my experience that it’s unusual in healthcare settings for physicians or other providers to criticize someone in direct, unambiguous terms. But that’s exactly what’s required of a medical expert—plaintiffs must produce medical expert testimony that there was a deviation of the standard of care by a doctor or other provider that caused harm to the patient. Plus, there’s always the social risk that a local physician serving as a plaintiffs’ expert may run into a doctor against whom he or she has testified at a professional meeting or social event.
A third and final reason that we’ll discuss today is that some doctors are unwilling to be critical of a fellow physician or healthcare provider unless there is evidence of an actual intent to harm a patient. In other words, negligence just isn’t enough for them.
These are some of the reasons why it’s our general practice to retain medical experts to review and testify in our medical malpractice cases who live and practice outside the geographic area of the defendants. This minimizes the chances of any social or professional pressures unrelated to the case creating impactor bias on their opinions.
One of the worst things that can happen in a case is to have a medical expert lose courage and back down after forming well-researched and appropriate opinions in the lawsuit.
If you’ve been seriously injured because of poor medical care in Texas, then contact an experienced, top-rated Houston, Texas medical malpractice lawyer for help in evaluating your potential case.