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Physician Rights and Responsibilities

Expert Witness Standards

The WSMA supports the following qualifications for expert witnesses and standards for expert testimony:


  1. Possess a current, valid and unrestricted license in the state in which they practice.
  2. Fully trained in the specialty and a diplomat in a relevant ABMS recognized specialty board and demonstrated competence in the subject of the case
  3. Be familiar with the clinical practice of the specialty or the subject matter of the case, and be actively involved in the clinical practice of the specialty for at least 3 of the previous 5 years at the time of the testimony.

Standards for Testimony

  1. Thoroughly review the medical information in the case and testify to its content fairly and impartially.
  2. Review the standards of practice prevailing at the time of the occurrence.
  3. Be prepared to state the basis of the testimony presented, and whether it is based on personal experience, specific clinical references, or generally accepted opinion in the specialty field.
  4. The expert witness is expected to be impartial, and should not adopt a position as an advocate.
  5. Compensation should be reasonable and commensurate with the time and effort given to preparing for deposition and court appearance. An expert witness may not link compensation to outcome of the case.
  6. Testimony is public record and subject to peer review.
  7. Make a clear distinction between malpractice and adverse outcomes. Assess the relationship of the alleged substandard practice to the patient's outcome.

(JC Rpt A, A-05) (Reaffirmed A-23)

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Abbreviations for House of Delegates report origination:

EC – Executive Committee; BT – Board of Trustees; CPA – Council on Professional Affairs; JC – Judicial Council; CHS – Community and Health Services

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