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February 21, 1977

Expert Medical Testimony

JAMA. 1977;237(8):765. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03270350025003

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To the Editor.—  In a recent COMMENTARY, Dr Aring suggested that physicians should refuse to testify in court except as a friend of the court. In an editorial, Richard Bergen responds by suggesting that the adversary system of litigation would suffer and is still "more often than not... just and appropriate."I would like to call attention to the fact that many malpractice cases are developed, if not manufactured, by financially involved "medical experts." These are a group of legally sophisticated physicians who review charts for attorneys, hunt for causes of action, advise and ultimately testify for the plaintiff, and are paid a percentage of the award in favorable cases. While no one questions the fairness of the adversary system or the justification of hiring expert medical consultants, rewarding them on performance before a jury creates a group of medical bounty-hunters. These medical bounty-hunters, and not just the plaintiff's attorneys,