When you’re on the “hot seat”

By Douglas W. Lundy, MD, FACS

Tips in answering questions during expert witness depositions

From my first encounter with the tort system, I have been concerned about the lack of formal education that we as physicians have about medical liability litigation. As an orthopaedic traumatologist, I have been deposed as a treating physician on multiple occasions. I am frequently concerned about how my testimony will be interpreted and used, in part because I am unfamiliar with the rules and processes of the legal system. Finding How To Excel During Depositions: Techniques for Experts that Work (SEAK, Inc., Falmouth, Mass., 1999) by Steven Babitsky, Esq., and James J. Mangraviti, Jr., Esq. was a revelation. It is an incredible resource for orthopaedic surgeons who serve as expert witnesses and for those who are defendants in a lawsuit. This book should be a “must-read” for every practicing physician, and an insight into some of the material is appropriate for risk management. I found the chapter on “Answering Counsel’s Questions” especially helpful; here are some tips from it.

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