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The medical-legal implications.

Expert witnesses must be qualified by the Court, based on the prospective experts qualifications and the standards set from legal precedent. To be qualified as an expert in a medical malpractice case, a person must have a sufficient knowledge, education, training, or experience regarding the specific issue before the court to qualify the expert to give a reliable opinion on a relevant issue.[14] The qualifications of the expert are not the deciding factors as to whether the individual will be qualified, although they are certainly important considerations. Expert testimony is not qualified “just because somebody with a diploma says it is so” . In addition to appropriate qualifications of the expert, the proposed testimony must meet certain criteria for reliability. In the United States, two models for evaluating the proposed testimony are used:

The more common (and some believe more reliable) approach used by all federal courts and most state courts is the ‘gatekeeper’ model, which is a test formulated from the US Supreme Court cases. Before the trial, a Daubert hearing[15] will take place before the judge (without the jury). The trial court judge must consider evidence presented to determine whether an expert’s “testimony rests on a reliable foundation and is relevant to the task at hand.” The Daubert hearing considers 4 questions about the testimony the prospective expert proposes:

  • Whether a “theory or technique . . . can be (and has been) tested”
  • Whether it “has been subjected to peer review and publication”.
  • Whether, in respect to a particular technique, there is a high “known or potential rate of error”
  • Whether there are “standards controlling the technique’s operation”.

Some state courts still use the Frye test that relies on scientific consensus to assess the admissibility of novel scientific evidence. Daubert expressly rejected the earlier federal rule’s incorporation of the Frye test. Expert testimony that would have passed the Frye test is now excluded under the more stringent requirements of Federal Rules of Evidence as construed by Daubert.