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April 5, 1976

Expert Medical Testimony

Author Affiliations

San Francisco

JAMA. 1976;235(14):1425. doi:10.1001/jama.1976.03260400013010

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To the Editor.—  Several recent letters in The Journal have been addressed to the problem of expert medical testimony. I believe the solutions suggested have been only palliative and inadequate. I believe that the system needs total restructuring.The problem appears to be related to the basic difference between the practice of law and the practice of medicine. The practice of law in this country is based on an adversary system, whereas the practice of medicine is not or should not be. I believe that most physicians who serve as expert witnesses are basically fair and honest and attempt to be as fair as possible in their testimony. Admittedly, there are a few "professional witnesses" as mentioned in previous letters, but the majority of physicians do attempt to be honest. However, the system is what gets in the way.It seems that the most honest physician, when he is hired