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The Value of EMR Expert Witnesses to your Case

Filed Under: , Best Practices
January 5, 2024 by Jake Jenkins

Comperio Legal Services provides skilled attorneys the electronic medical record analysis and expert witnesses they need to win. Discover the truth. Schedule your FREE, no-obligation case consultation today.

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Seeking Medical Insight

Imagine you are representing a client that was injured in a serious car accident. You would certainly hire automobile and forensics experts to help you investigate all the pertinent crash details to recreate the moments leading up to and immediately after the crash. From the velocity of the car at impact, to the approach angle, whether brakes were applied or if the driver was impaired, all these details and more are critical to conveying the life-changing impact of the accident to the jury.

Now, consider that in every medical malpractice case you have a silent observer noting every conceivable detail about your client’s interaction with the healthcare delivery system. Could you tease out crucial details and develop an accurate timeline from the objective perspective of the electronic medical record (EMR) system.

Simply recreating an accurate timeline often requires experts with training and experience in designing, developing, using, and reviewing EMRs or electronic health records (EHR) and audit logs. Additional expertise is required if questions arise about data’s meaning, completeness, accuracy, and timeliness or ways that the EMR’s user interface or automated clinical decision support tools may have contributed to alleged events.

A Smart Mind, but Strong on the Stand?

Experts often come from the field of clinical informatics that study the design, development, implementation, use, and evaluation of information of EMRs, but identifying well-qualified experts to aid a legal team could be challenging.

Expert witness candidates typically have expertise in healthcare system administration, health law and policy, computer science, medical billing, medical record review, information technology, and/or healthcare compliance. For the plaintiff, it may produce damning evidence to support the suit; or for the defense, vindication may be substantiated. The chosen expert could be associated with a health information industry organization such as the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), the Healthcare Business Management Association (HBMA), or the many others who hold control in the industry.

Choose Right, Ensure Relevance

Expert witness services could include report preparation, computer forensics, expert opinion, deposition testimony, and courtroom testimony. They are often called upon to educate the court on details about electronic evidence and often work alongside a clinician or medical expert to support a case. Please note that one expert can’t provide you with everything for every case as EMRs are too diverse and complex; but a strong expert team can provide great value to their clients and focus on proving or disproving the attorney’s case hypotheses.

Examples of litigation support matters requiring an expert in EMR include medical malpractice cases, intellectual property, false claims, and health insurance fraud. An expert witness must not only have the appropriate substantive expertise but should also possess the ability to explain the facts of the case to a judge and jury while having credentials such as EMR vendor certifications and/or years of IT analyst or configuration experience in the defendant’s system.

Medical expert witnesses using EMR are utilized on all court levels, even some of the highest ones imagined.

Weak EMR Experts Risk Your Case

Reported in January of 2021, Medicare fraud damages expert Michael F. Arrigo, served as an expert in a Medicare fraud case, assisting a Defendant-Appellant attorney in a successful outcome before the U.S. Court of Appeals. Arrigo is regarded as one the best expert witnesses in his field and has cited the careful analyzation of EMRs and paper records that helped with his task of helping the defense win the case.
Weak expert witness testimony can undermine a case. Recognizing problems that are commonly associated with expert witness testimony and how to get around them can help lawyers better prepare cases for court.

One problem commonly experienced by expert witnesses is the perception that they are a “hired gun”. Jurors may mistrust experts who adjust their opinions based on who is paying them or who is paying them more money. If an expert witness appears to be shaping his or her opinion based on the lawyer’s case theory, the jury may not find the expert credible. Another potential problem is that the expert will not adequately prepare. This can cause major issues during a deposition or trial. They may even provide testimony that agrees with the other side of the case. If an expert provides an opinion that is based on incorrect or incomplete facts, they can quickly lose credibility with the jury.

As attorneys decide to implement expert witnesses to help their chances of securing a win in a case, it is always important to remember who you are putting your case on the line with and if they truly will add any significance to your defense. Always make sure to go through the proper pros and cons the witness will bring and if the risk is best for your client.

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Do you have an expert understanding of the risk posed by the electronic medical records in your case? Discover the truth. Schedule your FREE, no-obligation case consultation today.

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