Statement on Expert Witness Qualifications and Testimony
Developed By: Committee on Professional Liability
Reaffirmed: October 18, 2023 (original approval: October 15, 2003)
The integrity of the litigation process in the United States depends in part on the honest, unbiased, responsible testimony of expert witnesses. Such testimony serves to clarify and explain technical concepts and to articulate professional standards of care. The ASA supports the concept that such expert testimony by anesthesiologists should be readily available, objective, and unbiased. To minimize uninformed and possibly misleading testimony, experts should be qualified for their role and should follow a clear and consistent set of ethical guidelines. These guidelines apply to any documents or testimony offered and/or produced by expert witnesses for the official legal record as it relates to litigation or legal proceedings.
A. EXPERT WITNESS QUALIFICATIONS
- The expert witness physician must have a current, valid, and unrestricted license to practice medicine within a jurisdiction in the United States of America.
- The expert witness physician must be board certified in anesthesiology by the American Board of Anesthesiology or by another board that the ASA considers equivalent.
- The expert witness physician should be actively involved in the clinical practice of anesthesiology at the time of the event as well as when performing the initial review of the case and should have relevant clinical experience and knowledge as they relate to the subject and circumstances of the proceeding and the events prompting the litigation.
B. EXPERT WITNESS ETHICAL GUIDELINES
- The expert witness physician’s review of the medical facts and events prompting the litigation should be truthful, thorough, independent, and impartial.
- The expert witness physician’s testimony should present the relevant scientific evidence and common practice at the time the event in question occurred, including whether the physician’s practices were negligent or deviated from any relevant standards of care.
- The expert witness physician should attempt to make a clear determination of the degree to which an adverse outcome is causally related to a physician’s alleged negligence or practices that deviated from any relevant standards of care.
- Whenever ASA documents are referenced or quoted for the purpose of expert witness testimony, the expert is obliged to differentiate whether these documents are ASA practice standards, practice guidelines, practice advisories or other statements.
- The expert witness physician’s fee must not be contingent on the outcome of the claim.
- The expert witness physician should be willing to submit a copy or record of their testimony and/or documents offered and/or produced for litigation and/or legal proceedings for review, as allowed by relevant legal and regulatory restrictions regarding their testimony.