The use of Pharmacists as expert witnesses in medical legal cases should be no surprise to anyone. Pharmacists would be expected to have the knowledge or expertise needed to decide the facts of many aspects of medicinal care. Were there any contradictions to using a specific pharmacologic agent? Were warnings ignored? Were other medications being used concurrently that could have interacted? Did the patient have side effects in the past with similar medications? Were the adverse effects reported related to the therapy prescribed? Were illicit substances used that could have provoked the idiosyncratic consequences?
What do Pharmacist Expert Witnesses Provide
Expert witnesses are allowed to express their opinion as to whether the defendant conformed to the prevailing standard of care under the existing circumstances. Medical malpractice claims and pharmacy standard of care cases usually require the testimony of expert witnesses. Jurors would never be expected to know if the average pharmacist was aware that toxic optic neuropathy can occur following the chronic use of cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril). Would it be important for the jury to know if the average physician that prescribes this medication to reduce skeletal muscle spasms is even aware of a potential to cause toxicity?
When it comes to pharmacy malpractice cases, do pharmacists have a duty to warn the average patient of its usual side effects? What if the patient is already on several medications for an ophthalmic disorder like glaucoma? Attorneys often have to make financial decisions about hiring a pharmacist to review or consult on a legal case. Often legal nurse consultants are employed by large legal firms to help review cases and seek medical experts. With attorney representation already a significant financial requirement, discussions with their clients about whether hiring experts are necessary must be considered for many cases. The testimony of a well educated and respected expert in their field may be all that is needed for a jury to render an opinion on the conduct of a pharmacist or physician.
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