The majority of medical legal cases involving bodily injury require the expertise of an Orthopaedic Surgeon. Most accidents and industrial injuries involve the musculoskeletal system— including bone fractures, ligament injuries, or soft tissue injuries involving the extremities or spine. With so many experts available, what qualities should you look for in your Orthopaedic Expert?
The most important quality by far is that your Orthopaedic Expert be a practicing Orthopaedic Surgeon, with the majority of time spent in patient care and in the operating room. How can your expert opine on standards of care for his or her specialty, if he or she is not actively practicing? Surgeons who actively treat patients and perform surgical procedures are well versed in the outcomes associated with Orthopaedic conditions— including common complications, and how they are treated.
One easy way to determine how active your expert is in his medical community is whether he serves as “On-Call” for the Emergency Department of his local hospital. Serving “On-Call” means agreeing to treat patients with acute Orthopaedic conditions that require emergency care. The most common types of injury requiring emergency Orthopaedic treatment and hospitalization are hip fractures, extremity fractures, and open soft tissue injuries; or high-impact injuries such as motor vehicle accidents.
Board-Certification is an essential qualification in your Orthopaedic Expert. The American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery is the governing body for Board Certification in the United States. Board Certification is granted after an Orthopaedic Surgeon has passed a written exam (Part I) and an oral exam (Part II) after 2 years of active practice. Once granted, certification lasts for 10 years with re-certification required every decade.
In addition to Board Certification in General Orthopaedics, there are two sub-specialty board certifications available— one in Hand Surgery, and one in Sports Medicine. Hand Surgery and Sports Medicine require one year of additional fellowship training followed by a written exam. There are no other sub-specialty Board Certifications in Orthopaedic Surgery.
It is common misconception that Spine Surgery has a Board Certification. Therefore, the answer to the question “Are you Board Certified in Orthopaedic Spine Surgery?” is “No” because no such certification exists. You can look up the board certification of your expert online at the ABOS website (www.abos.org).
Teaching and Research
The best Orthopaedic Experts have some form of experience teaching or publishing research. They either educate their peers at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, teach residents or medical students at a local university, or publish their research in peer-reviewed journals. Teaching others is a clear sign of expertise, and typically means that an expert is a skilled public speaker, receives written feedback and evaluations on his performance, and is up-to-date on the most recent advances in his field.
Experience With Legal Cases
It’s important that your expert be what we call a “Straight Shooter.” Experience such as working for the defense or plaintiff, insurance companies, and in the field of disability or worker’s compensation further qualifies an expert. Having this breadth of experience means that the expert can write a report or testify knowing concepts key to the parties involved. It also means that he understands the ramifications of opining on causation, liability, and disability.
An Orthopaedic Expert that is willing to opine without thoroughly reviewing and digesting objective medical evidence is not your ideal expert. It is wise to interview your potential expert candidate prior to retention. As much as you want to know whether your potential expert will opine on your case favorably, the best experts won’t be able to tell you whether or not your case is reasonable before reviewing the medical evidence.
In this day and age of communication, look for an expert who is responsive by email, text message or telephone. It doesn’t make sense to retain the most prominent expert in your area if you can’t get a hold of him for important matters that are time-sensitive, such as reviewing additional records prior to deposing a key witness. A responsive expert shows you that he is engaged and has an interest in the case. This type of expert shows that he understands the essential role he plays in serving society by providing his expertise to help solve legal disputes. Although these responsive experts are more difficult to find, when you do find one you should continue to work with him to help develop his skills and experience as an expert.
Expert Witness Bio E-086341
This qualified expert of orthopedic surgery obtained his BA in Biology from Swarthmore College, his MPH from the University of California Berkeley, and his MD from the University of California Davis. He completed his residency in orthopedic surgery at the University of Hawaii and his fellowship in orthopedic sports medicine at the University of California San Francisco. He is Board Certified in orthopedic surgery and is a member of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, the Arthoscopy Association of North America, and the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine. He has 20+ publications on orthopedic surgery and is currently a Physician at a major metropolitan hospital and a private orthopedic practice. He is also an Assistant Clinical Professor and the Fellowship Director of Sports Medicine at a top medical school on the west coast.
BA, Biology, Swarthmore College
MPH, Public Health, University of California-Berkeley
MD, Medicine, University of California-Davis
Residency, Orthopedic Surgery, University of Hawaii
Fellowship, Orthopedic Sports Medicine-Arthroplasty, University of California-San Francisco
Board Certified: Orthopedic Surgery
Member, American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons
Member, Arthroscopy Association of North America
Member, American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
Publications: 8 Articles
Current, Physician, a major metropolitan hospital
Current, Physician, a private orthopedic practice
Current, Assistant Clinical Professor
Current, Fellowship Director of Sports Medicine