General Surgical Medical Malpractice Expert: What You Should Expect

Medically reviewed by: Gary H. Hoffman, MD

A general surgical medical malpractice expert can speak to almost any type of surgical issue, or medical concern that might require surgery. They can clearly answer any questions about whether the defendant in the case provided your client with the appropriate triage, diagnosis, treatment, and follow up. They will also help you understand the procedures, protocols, and best practices that make up the acceptable standard of care based on your client’s exact situation.  The medical malpractice surgical expert can also provide your client valuable support if he or she is the defendant.  An expert should be willing to evaluate and testify honestly, providing support.

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The support should come in the form of showing the defense counsel weaknesses in their case and should try to let the counsel know what to expect from the plaintiff’s counsel.

The plaintiff’s counsel will want to know exactly what the defense will say to bolster the defense and should advise the plaintiff’s counsel of the high bar that must be met in order to overcome the defense.

Since expert witnesses play such an essential role in these cases, it is important to know that you have the best possible general surgeon working on your case and helping you hold the at-fault parties liable. Some of the things you can expect from a general surgeon serving as a medical malpractice expert include:

A Well-Rounded Background and Experience

A general surgeon can serve as an expert in a wide variety of cases and should be well-versed in the treatment of almost any illness or injury that might require surgery.  Additionally, your expert should know when surgery might not have been the wisest course of action; or when non-surgical therapies might have been superior treatment.  Your medical malpractice expert can speak to the acceptable standard of care in cases that involve almost everything from car accidents to cancer. When you call on a board-certified specialist, you can expect them to know – and have hands-on experience – dealing with cases very similar to the one in question. You can also expect them to be affiliated with major hospitals and be well-respected by their peers.   Often, your expert is involved in teaching medical students, residents and fellows.  This usually helps the expert to remain very up to date on the latest trends and treatments.

Able to Speak to the Most Up-to-Date Standards

A major part of a medical malpractice expert’s role is to understand and explain the current procedures and protocols all doctors must follow in a given situation. This makes it very important that the general surgeon who serves as an expert in your case be able to  discuss the latest breakthroughs and the newest procedures at length.

Surgeons have a legal obligation to provide an acceptable standard of care based on the care provided by other physicians in the same specialty and with the same experience. This acceptable standard of care however, is somewhat of a moving target. Research, clinical trials, and even new techniques can change the treatment protocols for a particular condition in a matter of months or even weeks. For this reason, it is imperative your general surgical medical malpractice expert be up-to-date on any research or current literature that might apply to your case. You should expect a well-qualified physician to stay abreast of the latest developments in a wide variety of surgical topics.

Can Explain the Medical Details to Various Audiences

Not all good general surgeons make excellent medical malpractice experts. While being knowledgeable and good at the job are important, the surgeons who can also effectively and simply communicate complex medical procedures and protocols to a number of different audiences stands head and shoulders above the rest.

Your expert witness should look at your client’s condition and their care objectively, working to get a good grasp on both sides of the case. This allows them to explain how the details of your client’s medical care directly relate to the strengths and weaknesses of your arguments against the defendants or plaintiffs.

In addition to explaining the medical basis of your argument to a legal team who handles medical malpractice cases all the time, your general surgery expert will need to explain the medical aspects of the case to a juries in a language they understand.

The jury cannot determine if the defendant or plaintiff deviated from the appropriate standard of care unless they fully understand exactly what that standard of care is and how it differed from what your client experienced. The best general surgical malpractice experts can simplify even the most complicated surgical issues and explain them in a way any member of a jury can understand.

Ensure Your Medical Malpractice Expert Lives Up to Your Expectations

It is the duty of any expert witness to identify any deviations from the acceptable standard of care, as well as proving the other essential elements of your client’s case. Your general surgeon malpractice expert will help you understand the causation, liability, and damages that occurred, and help you communicate these to the judge and jury. Enlisting the best possible medical expert witness for your general surgery malpractice case can make your job much easier.

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