Beyond Testimony: How Medical Experts Contribute To Cases

Beyond Testimony: How Medical Experts Contribute To Cases

Over the decades, people have asked what I do for a living. When asked, most people get to answer with simple replies: accountant, doctor, carpenter, stock broker, architect, etc. When I explain what I do for a living, most people immediately think it’s all about experts testifying.


That’s far from reality. In some ways, that’s like thinking the majority of an iceberg is the part above the water line. The truth is that the testimony part is a relatively small percentage of what expert’s actually do and most cases don’t even progress that far. Just like the vast majority of the “iceberg” is the part that’s under the water, with experts, it’s mostly the review of medical and legal documents/radiologic studies/microscopic slides, consulting with attorneys, drafting reports, and sometimes even performing an exam.

Medical-Legal Triage Case Study: Cataract

A 70-year-old diabetic male with a multi-year history of declining vision OD (right eye) is diagnosed with a cataract. Ophthalmologist removes the cataract by phacoemulsification but after the aspiration and irrigation, i.e., during the IOL (intraocular lens) placement, the lens is dropped from the anterior chamber into the vitreous, landing around the retina. Ophthalmologist, realizing the severity of this complication goes ‘fishing’ for the lens. During the this attempt to retrieve the lens which is sitting on the retina, the retina is damaged. Ophthalmologist closes and, a few days later the patient’s OD vision is not restored but, rather, is manifesting the symptoms of retinal injury.

Who should review it?

Medical-Legal Triage Case Study: Salmonella

Medical-Legal Triage Case Study:  Salmonella

A middle-aged woman goes to a barbecue where she eats something tainted with salmonella. She ends up going into renal failure, but recovers without much damage beyond her few days of hospitalization and the associated pain and suffering. The defense attorney wants an examination by a gastroenterologist in Widget County, PA.

So, what’s the problem with just providing what was requested?

Medical-Legal Triage Case Study: Melanoma

A 47-year-old female presents to a dermatologist complaining of a “discolored” mole on her back in November. The dermatologist says it’s nothing serious but decides to freeze it off with liquid nitrogen in the office. After noticing the “discoloration” returning over the next few months, the patient decides to have it checked. She presents to an urgent care center, where the physician immediately refers her to a dermatologist, who does a biopsy. The report comes back as melanoma with penetration into the dermis, Stage IIA (T2b, N0, M0).

Who should review it?