Expert Witnesses

Orthopaedic surgeons are frequently called upon to provide orthopaedic medical testimony in legal or administrative proceedings. In some jurisdictions, criteria for medical witnesses may be inadequate and as a result, unqualified physicians may testify as orthopaedic expert witnesses. It is in the public interest that orthopaedic medical testimony be readily available and objective.

The Code of Medical Ethics and Professionalism of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) provides that: "Orthopaedic surgeons are frequently called upon to provide expert medical testimony in courts of law. In providing testimony, the orthopaedic surgeon should ensure that the testimony provided is non-partisan, scientifically correct, and clinically accurate. The orthopaedic surgeon should not testify concerning matters about which the orthopaedic surgeon is not knowledgeable. It is unethical for an orthopaedic surgeon to accept compensation that is contingent upon the outcome of litigation."

The AAOS believes that, consistent with the Code of Medical Ethics and Professionalism and to limit uninformed and possibly misleading testimony, individuals providing orthopaedic medical testimony should be qualified for their role and should follow a clear and consistent set of ethical guidelines.

On an advocacy level, there are legislative or regulatory steps that can be taken to determine rules and guidelines about who is qualified to testify as an expert medical witness, and what steps can be taken with individuals that knowingly give false or misleading testimony.