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Doctor, Please Take the Stand: Stress, Duties, and Dangers of Physician Testimony

Doctor, Please Take the Stand: Stress, Duties, and Dangers of Physician Testimony


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Michael J. Sacopulos, JD

Many physicians experience stress and anxiety when they are asked to testify in court or be an expert witness. Handling a barrage of attorney questions under oath can be challenging. And although testifying against a patient who has sued for malpractice is, of course, difficult, testifying against a colleague—for example, in an impairment or patient safety case—can be even worse. This article addresses some of the key reasons that cause physicians to resist testifying, and suggests ways for physicians to deliver their testimony in a way that is effective and can be understood by a jury.