With the UK’s most targeted network of medical expert witnesses, the team at Foresight Clinical Services are well-practiced in helping solicitors appoint the best expert witness for their case. The enormous pressure under which medical staff must work is ever-increasing whilst the budget is endlessly squeezed. Only recently we saw the case of Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba, a junior doctor specialising in in paediatrics, who was finally reinstated to the medical register after being stuck off for ‘gross negligence’ after the death of six-year-old Jack Adcock. Further evidence revealed that whilst mistakes were made on the day of Jack’s death, they were done so under the impossibly stretched responsibility of a single doctor.
Of course, cases of medical negligence are sensitive and complex, thereby requiring the instruction of a relevant medical expert witness to assist the solicitor in their case and the court in fair trial. This week, we look in further detail as to why this instruction is necessary.
On any given medical team stands a network of staff working with multiple patients from administrative bodies to senior nurses and lead doctors. Medicine is one of the most intricate, compound, and certainly the most directly affecting sector. With thousands of UK procedures carried out each day from run of the mill check-ups and routine treatments like dialysis or chemotherapy, to emergency procedures and life-changing surgeries.
A mistake or failure in the duty of care at any level, by way of misinformation to the patients or other medical team members, missed diagnosis, misdiagnosis, or medical errors is a risk, particularly with staff under pressure. When such medical negligence occurs, an independent medical expert witness within the same field is often instructed by a solicitor. The medical expert witness can then evaluate the existing evidence and perform in depth medical assessments in order to determine where, if any, mistakes were made and the extent to which this affected the health and wellbeing of the patient with consideration of surrounding circumstances.
As part of their instruction by the solicitor, the medical expert witness must produce a medical report which documents exactly the assessments they did and their conclusions. Crucially this report will not only be comprehensive, but accessible to those who do not share the same profound and specific knowledge as the medical expert witness.
The medical expert report may reveal significant and substantial evidence which can be used directly by the solicitor in order to compose their case. With the production of this report by the medical expert witness, the solicitor’s case can be significantly strengthened. Not only is the solicitor far more informed, by sharing the medical expert report with the court, an informed final decision can be made, thus supporting fair trial and due justice.
In addition, the medical expert witness may give their expert opinion in court. With their professional standing recognised and respected, the medical expert witness serves to further strengthen the medical negligence case.
When a solicitor is looking to appoint a medical expert witness in a medical negligence case, it is essential that their expertise is strictly relevant to the case in order to provide the necessary level of expertise. For example, if a patient who had undergone dental surgery brought forward a medical negligence case, a solicitor can expect far better insight from a dental surgeon expert witness than, say, a cardiac surgeon. Not only is the relevant expertise necessary for the solicitor to produce a strong case, when the medical expert report and opinion is given to the court, anything deemed irrelevant or without case specific medical expertise is at risk of being challenged or even dismissed by the court.
If you require a medical expert witness for a case of medical negligence, get in touch with one of our experienced case managers today.