Doctors Take the Stage

Star TribuneNovember 01, 2006

Star Tribune

Expert witnesses are principal actors in Minnesota malpractice cases.

Physicians may not feel quite as comfortable in the courtroom as in the clinic, but they need to take center stage in any medical malpractice proceeding. In fact, in Minnesota, you can't start Act I without them.

To launch a medical malpractice action against a physician, you need an expert. Minnesota law requires that within 180 days of initiating a malpractice suit, the plaintiff's attorney must submit an affidavit stating that the facts of the case have been reviewed by "an expert whose qualifications provide a reasonable expectation that the expert's opinions could be admissible at trial."

The job of the expert, whether for the plaintiff or the defendant, is to articulate whether the physician being sued deviated from the standard of care for a particular specialty and treatment, and whether that deviation caused injury. To be effective, experts need to have practical knowledge and experience in the field that is being discussed.

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