We have an adversarial legal system in which the Claimant and the Defendant put forward their respective arguments and the Court decides in favour of one or the other. The system depends on “Experts” to advise the Court on standards of care – to be successful in a claim for clinical negligence, the claimant has to first establish the standard of care which should have been given (Duty of Care) and then show that that standard was not achieved (breach of Duty of Care). The patient then has to show that this breach of Duty of Care caused the harm which they suffered. Thus a Surgeon has to advise on these issues. There is no set definition of an Expert but it is essentially one who has the knowledge to advise the Court on the standards of care at the time of the event.
The Society for Cardiothoracic Surgery in GB & Ireland is often asked to suggest Surgeons who could act as Experts although the Royal Medical Colleges in the UK (www.aomrc.org.uk) has advised against this as it suggests endorsement of an individual as an Expert. Instead the Society maintains a list of members willing to undertake medico-legal work. It is up to the Solicitor to make contact and decide whether to issue formal Instructions. This list is avaialble to facilitate contact between Solicitors and appropriate Surgeons and does not carry endorsement by the Society.
To download the list of expert witnesses, please click here.