a Consulting Medical Expert
order to determine whether a viable medical malpractice
case exists, a consulting medical expert must be retained
to review the medical records involved in the patient's
care. Consulting medical experts are different than
testifying experts in that they will review the case,
provide an opinion as to whether malpractice may be
proven, but they will not testify.
Louisiana, the identity of consulting medical experts
is generally not discoverable by the defense. Thus,
some local physicians are willing to anonomously review
medical charts to determine if malpractice was committed.
However, just because a local physician is willing
to review charts without the medical community knowing
this fact, does not ensure that a local physician
will be completely objective in the review.
the local physician knows the doctor involved or is
his friend, he may not be as likely to give a completely
unbiased opinion on the chart review. Thus, it is
always advisable to have an out of town physician
review the case at some point before the case is accepted.
attorneys like to use nurses to screen the cases for
merit. However, this attorney prefers to use physicians,
particularly physicians in the same specialty as the
physician who is alleged to have committed malpractice,
to screen his cases. This approach provides a more
thorough and accurate understanding of the issues
in the case.
This is why it is important to retain an experienced
medical malpractice lawyer who has resources to have
the case properly screened for merit. Since the standard
of medical care is not written in some book, it is
important to use physicians who practice in the same
specialty as the defendant doctor to analyze the medical/legal
issues in the case.
experts are not cheap. Most charge by the hour for
their review time. Some Louisiana attorneys will not
retain consulting physicians and will simply submit
the case to the medical review panel for their opinion.
However, since approximately 97% of the medical review
panels are won by the physicians, it is hard to tell
whether the case truely lacked merit. Moreover, the
consulting expert can help the attorney prepare the
submission of evidence to the medical review panel
so that important and sometimes subtle medical issues
are not overlooked.
consulting medical expert can also assist the attorney
in preparing for the deposition of the defendant doctor.
Again, thorough preparation can help determine all
of the issues in the case at an earlier stage. It
is always better for the patient and their families
to know as early as possible if the case cannot be
proven in a court of law. Consulting medical experts
often provide the much needed closure and medical
explanation that the family never got in the first
place which prompted their suspicion.