Siobhan Farrell (NOSM); Dan Newton (Carrel and Partners)
Some physicians may not understand the expectations regarding providing expert testimony. Based on discussions between NOSM staff and lawyers, a learning session was developed in March 2011.
A mock trial was held for medical students from the Northern Ontario School of Medicine to demonstrate expectations of medical expert witnesses. This included an introductory presentation, covering:
1. The legal context of giving medical expert witness, including:
- Filing reports
- What is an expert?
- Why do we have experts?
- Qualifying as an expert
- What troubles do experts get into?
- Different types of (legal) examinations
2. The mock trial using a real case
3. Panel discussion and questions
Medical learners attended the trial held in the courthouse. The presentation and mock trial was both engaging and challenging, while the case demonstrated an example of how childhood sexual abuse can lead to adult trauma, addiction and lifetime instability.
This type of simulation occurring early in the medical curriculum, can demonstrate a number of important concepts such as the role of expert testimony, the need for an effective relationship between the medical and legal community and the need for clear communication. Depending on the nature of the case, this type of simulation can also illustrate other elements which can contribute to the learners’ professional development.