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February 21, 1977

Expert Medical Testimony

JAMA. 1977;237(8):765. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03270350025002

To the Editor.—  I am writing with reference to the recent article by Charles D. Aring, MD (236:569, 1976).Dr Aring makes a plea for true objectivity in expert medical testimony and suggests a method by which this can be attained, viz, that physicians refuse to provide expert testimony except in the role of court-appointed (impartial) witnesses. Whether or not this is a viable solution remains to be seen; however, I must express my objections to the editorial reply by the AMA legal counsel (236:592, 1976).If Mr Bergen wishes to question the legality of Dr Aring's suggestions, that is his privilege, but when he extols the virtues of the adversary system as it relates to medical testimony, his comments would be better appreciated by the legal profession.I have been an expert witness for 20 years, and I have learned that the so-called "honest" difference of medical opinion is