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What makes a medical expert, and how can one find out if a medical expert is qualified?

Typically a medical expert is a physician who has qualifications and experience sufficient to elevate his opinions to what is generally considered by courts and the public as "expert". Note that some would use the term medical expert to refer to a broad range of healthcare providers. In the US, the term "physicians" most often refers to doctors who have received a doctor of medicine degree (MD)and osteopaths who have received a doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO) degree. Other types of healthcare providers may also hold different types of "doctorate" degrees such as dentists, podiatrists, psychologists or chiropractors. At its most basic, the degree confers a general license to practice in any specialty one chooses. The key to what makes a medical expert lies in credentialing.

Credentialing Medical Experts:

At the heart of credentialing is board certification. At an absolute minimum, to be considered a medical expert, a physician must be board certified. This signifies that qualifications for specialization by one of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) has been met. This includes completing an approved residency and passing a rigid exam. Note that the term "board eligible" signifies completion of a residency, but not the exam, and confers no official status. A "diplomate" is a board certified physician, and amoung the boards that offer it, a "Fellow" is a more prestigious title. Note that most boards require recertification every so many years, and this is to be distinguished from some state's requirements of continuing medical education (CME). Verifying a medical expert's board certification is one of the services JurisSolutions provides to its' clients, and is part of our standard credentialing process, more of which is below.

Education:

US medical schools are highly standardized and accredited by the Liaison Committee for Medical Education (LCME). Foreign medical school graduates must pass the same exam to be licensed here. Residency refers to postgraduate training that is usually at least three years. (Contrary to popular belief, while most residencies last three to six or more years, a minimum of three years is not required for a license in some states - some require only one.) Fellowships provide advanced clinical and research training in an area and lead to a subspecialty certification. All aspects of education can be used to evaluate a medical expert's qualifications.


Affiliations and other factors:

Hospital appointments are an indicator of medical expertise since the best hospitals are highly selective and have their own credentialing and peer review procedures. A medical school faculty appointment is another affiliation shared by many medical experts and has obvious weight. Another factor is medical society membership as many are based on research and publication. Along with the above, a medical expert's special interests are often reflected in their cirriculum vitae or CV. This may contain research projects, appointments, affiliations, honors, awards, and publications which can distinguish a medical expert. Finally, all of the above must then be weighed against negative factors.


Negative Factors:

All of the above go toward what makes a physician a medical expert, but good credentialing will also check the following: Licenses must be in good standing; both medical and DEA licenses to dispense controlled substances. In addition, organizations including many state's departments of health or education can be queried to see if any disciplinary actions have been taken against a physician.


Conclusion:

JurisSolutions is extremely familiar with what makes a good medical expert. We have years of experience in all of the above, along with the knowledge and resources to quickly provide information on all of the factors listed, plus others such as practice setting, personality, written and verbal communication skills, success at deposition and testimony and many others.

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