The American Academy of Emergency Medicine has a Position Statement
on Ethical Expert Conduct and Testimony.
It is by these guidelines that I conduct myself as an emergency medicine expert and emergency medicine expert witness. The guidelines were published on 10/24/05.
AAEM Position Statement
AAEM states that these principles are essential to the conduct of the expert offering principles, opinions, or testimony in medical-legal matters.
AAEM’s policy conversely states that a violation of these principles constitutes a violation of the Academy’s Ethics policy and may be subject to sanctions.
“Expert Testimony as Medical Practice
Provision of opinions, reports, reviews, or testimony as a medical expert is part of medical practice. As such, an expert witness providing such services is subject to all applicable rules, regulations, and standards as well as the oversight and authority of the appropriate state licensing body.”
Qualifications of an Emergency Medicine Expert Witness
“An expert witness offering testimony related to emergency medical care must be
- board certified by The American Board of Emergency Medicine or the American Board of Osteopathic Emergency Medicine; and
- actively engaged in the provision of emergent medical care to patients.”
I am a full-time emergency medicine practitioner and have been practicing emergency medicine for over 21 years post-residency. I am board-certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine through 2027.
“Scope of Testimony
An expert witness offering testimony should:
- offer testimony only about the care that falls within the expert’s area of expertise and training; (this, therefore, precludes testimony outside of the expert’s area of expertise. For example, in general, an orthopedist should not comment on care provided by a hematologist)
- conduct a thorough review of relevant material including, but not limited to, medical records, test results, and witness statements or depositions prior to offering testimony or opinions;
- review and be prepared to describe medical literature relevant to the care provided, including that literature provided by other witnesses when possible;
- offer complete testimony (whenever necessary to avoid incomplete or inaccurate testimony, the expert must offer appropriate qualifications or clarifications); and
- explicitly state whenever an opinion offered is not conclusive, as well as explain the reason(s) why it is not.”
As an Emergency Medicine Expert Witness, I was asked to opine on the care provided by a hematologist, infectious disease doctor, and intensivist. This was outside my expertise. However, I was able to discuss what the expected standard of care for response time was in my emergency department or settings similar to the ones where I have practiced.
Emergency Medicine Expert Witness Duty to the Court
“At all times, an expert witness offering testimony must
- impartially assist the Court and its officers on relevant matters within the expert’s area of expertise;
- not advocate for the party who engages him or her as an expert witness;”
A medical expert witness, and specifically for this discussion, an emergency medicine expert witness should be able to be impartial.
“Duty to Confer
At the direction of the court, an expert witness will confer with other witnesses to
- attempt to reach an agreement on matters within the field of expertise of the expert witnesses;
- prepare and sign a joint witness statement describing matters of agreement and disagreement among the witnesses, along with the reasons for disagreement.”
In following the court’s direction, the expert must exercise independent and professional judgment and must not act on the instructions or directions of any person to withhold or avoid agreement.
Professional Reimbursement for an Emergency Medicine Expert Witness
“An expert witness, being engaged in the practice of medicine, shall be entitled to fair reimbursement for all work performed. In establishing a fee structure, the expert witness shall refuse payment based on case outcome.”
The emergency medicine expert consultation I provide is independent of the case outcome. The consultation is an hourly fee and not contingency based. With over 20 years of experience as an Emergency Medicine Physician in various practice settings, I can opine on the causation and standard of care as it relates to the practice of emergency medicine.
Please reach out to me to discuss your case. The initial consultation is free.
Paul Louis, M.D., FAAEM
Phone: (561) 445-6674