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Article
January 30, 1897

THE HYPOTHETICAL CASE IN MEDICAL EXPERT TESTIMONY.

JAMA. 1897;XXVIII(5):229-230. doi:10.1001/jama.1897.02440050037004

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Abstract

The value of the hypothetical case in obtaining medical expert opinion is one of the questions in regard to which both lawyers and doctors appear to disagree. A recent editorial in one of our contemporaries quotes a prominent lawyer as saying that it serves a purpose in showing the utter worthlessness of the opposing testimony, presumably seeing in it no other use or value. It was admitted by him that in this it was a weapon that cuts both ways and he considered that its influence in one direction was counteracted by that in the other, so that its real effect is practically zero.

If this notion is correct, no self-respecting expert would really care to go on the stand and answer a hypothetical question, and it would seem that no sensible lawyer would see any necessity for asking one, if the opinion obtained could be really at once counteracted

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