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Being an Expert Witness in a Legal Proceeding: A Learning Experience


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I read with great interest and appreciation the Law and Ethics in Oncology column, “Should You Become an Expert Witness in a Legal Proceeding? Here Are the Pros and Cons,” by Thaddeus Pope, JD, PhD (August 25, 2019, issue of The ASCO Post). I am an oncologist and have been an expert witness in a variety of medical cases over the past 30 years. Along with the points made in the article about the benefits of being an expert medical witness in a legal proceeding, I would also emphasize the education that the experience has given me about my own medical field of oncology, and how the way in which an oncologist talks to patients can often be misinterpreted and lead to confusion, anger, and, ultimately, litigation.

I have probably learned as much about cancer care in litigation as I have in my medical practice. Certainly, I have become a better physician from having this experience. Being involved in this legal arena requires skills and a temperament that are different from the practice of medicine, which is not usually adversarial.

My particular interest at the present time is to educate physicians about the legal process. I give lectures on medical litigation and have coauthored a booklet on the topic, which we use at my institution as a service to our physicians. It is amazing how little physicians understand about the law. ■

Michael B. Van Scoy-Mosher, MD
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
Los Angeles, California

Disclaimer: Letters to the Editor represent the views of the author and may not necessarily reflect the views of ASCO or The ASCO Post.

 


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