Policy Statement on Members Acting as an Expert Witness
The American Urogynecologic Society (AUGS) believes that physicians have an obligation to provide medical guidance to the judicial system, and to give credible and evidence-based testimony when it is needed. AUGS members should be willing to testify in court as an expert witness as appropriate on behalf of the plaintiff or defendant in medical malpractice cases as well as pharmaceutical and medical product liability cases; participation exclusively on one side or the other might signal bias. AUGS believes that experienced and knowledgeable urogynecologists have an ethical obligation to educate the judicial system about proper standards of care in Urogynecology. The urogynecologist’s testimony should help the court and jury understand the standard of care in each situation, and to distinguish between professional negligence and medical mal-occurrence in malpractice litigation. In pharmaceutical and medical product liability cases, the urogynecologist should help the court and jury understand the medical science involved in product development and clinical outcome studies.
AUGS believes that expert witness testimony is considered within the purview of the practice of medicine, and therefore is subject to peer review. AUGS members whose testimony is deliberately erroneous, deceptive, misleading or without scientific basis may be subject to disciplinary action by AUGS.
To support this belief, AUGS has developed the below qualifications for providing expert witness testimony, as well as behaviors for physicians acting as an expert witness.
AUGS requires that its members have the following qualifications to serve as an expert witness in the field of urogynecology:
- Clinically active in urogynecology with a current valid and unrestricted license at the time of the alleged occurrence.
- Current diplomate of the relevant medical Board at the time of the alleged occurrence and should be qualified by an experience or demonstrated competence in the subject of the case.
- Familiarity with texts, journals, guidelines and other sources of information that establish the applicable standard of care contemporaneous with the incident/subject under consideration.
- Proficiency and experience in clinical practice and the medical science which is the subject of the case. The urogynecologist should testify only in areas where qualified by training, experience, and continuing education.
- Willingness to serve in a fair and impartial manner for either defendant or plaintiff. The expert witness should not be unduly influenced into becoming an advocate for one side or another.
Recommended guidelines for behavior for those serving as an expert witness:
- A urogynecologist’s review of the case should be complete and impartial. Expert witness testimony should include acceptable and realistic options for care as advocated by reputable and respected practicing urogynecologists.
- Perform a complete and thorough review of all available medical information, before rendering any opinion regarding the case.
- Provide factual and scientific statements in a truthful manner.
- Distinguish between negligence (substandard medical care that results in harm) and an adverse medical outcome (complications that can occur in the absence of negligence).
- Willing to disclose financial relationships as potential conflicts of interest regarding their testimony (e.g., abstract submission, Board of Directors, etc.). Acceptance of compensation contingent upon the outcome of a case is unethical and unacceptable at all times.
- An expert witness is ethically and legally obligated to tell the truth and such testimony may be subject to peer review. Failure to provide truthful testimony may result in disciplinary action.
Expert Witness Affirmation Statement
All AUGS members involved in these services are expected to sign the Expert Witness Affirmation Statement and send it to AUGS at firstname.lastname@example.org where it will be kept on file. AUGS will not accept Affirmation Statements that have been altered. Violation of the above principles may result in disciplinary review by the AUGS Board of Directors. This Affirmation Statement shall expire only upon a written request to rescind it.
Complete the Expert Witness Affirmation Statement
File a Complaint
AUGS accepts complaints about expert witness testimony provided by AUGS members that may be in violation of the suggested guidelines and qualifications for expert witnesses as set forth in the AUGS Statement on the physician acting as an expert witness.
Download Complaint Form
The Board of Directors may expel, call for the resignation of, or otherwise discipline any member if a majority of all of the Board finds the conduct of the member has been injurious to the good order, peace, reputation, or best interest of the society, or is derogatory to its dignity, inconsistent with its purposes, or shows a failure to maintain the standards of conduct set forth in the Member Code of Conduct.
Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, the following shall in each case be conduct or conclusive evidence of conduct injurious to the best interest of AUGS and inconsistent with its purposes:
- Conviction of a felony or of any crime relating to or arising out of the practice of medicine or involving moral turpitude.
- Limitation or termination of any right associated with the practice of medicine in any state, province, or country, including the imposition of any requirement for surveillance, supervision, or review, by reason of violation of a medical practice act or other statute or governmental regulation, disciplinary action by any medical licensing authority, entry into a consent order, or voluntary surrender of license.
- Improper financial dealings, including the payment or acceptance of rebates of fees for services or appliances, and the charging of exorbitant fees, or engaging in any activities which put personal financial consideration above the welfare of patients.
- Participating in the deception of a patient.
- Performance of unjustified surgery.
- Unprofessional conduct.
- The performance of surgical operations (except on patients whose chances of recovery would be prejudiced by removal to another hospital) when the responsibility for diagnosis or nonoperative care of the patient is delegated to another who is not fully qualified to undertake it.
- Failure or refusal to cooperate reasonably with an investigation by AUGS of a disciplinary matter.
- Participating in communications to AUGS, the public, or as part of a judicial process which convey false, untrue, deceptive, or misleading information through statements, testimonials, photographs, graphics, or other means, or which omit material information without which the communication is deceptive.
Disciplinary questions shall be investigated by or under the supervision of the CEO. All cases will be shared with the full Board to determine if further consideration of disciplinary action may be warranted. If the Board decides that no disciplinary action should be taken, it shall so advise the CEO. If the Board decides that disciplinary action should be taken in any case, its recommendation as to the action to be taken shall be submitted in writing to the CEO.
The Board shall not make a recommendation for disciplinary action with respect to a member unless written notice shall have been sent to the member by registered or certified mail, or by any other means of delivery that provides AUGS with evidence of receipt, not less than thirty (30) days prior to a meeting of the Board: (a) stating the time and place of such meeting, and (b) informing the member that disciplinary action will be considered at such meeting and offering the member an opportunity to appear in person with counsel if so desired and to submit such evidence as the member deems proper to show that disciplinary action should not be taken. At the conclusion of the meeting of the Board, a written recommendation for disciplinary action will be forwarded to the CEO for final action.
The member will be notified of the final action taken by the Board in writing within thirty (30) days after the Board meeting. The notice will be mailed to the member by registered or certified mail, or by any other means of delivery that provides AUGS with evidence of receipt. The member will have thirty (30) days to request reconsideration, and may, within such thirty (30) day period, submit additional written information for review and consideration. The Executive Committee will review any material submitted and will determine if reconsideration by the full Board is warranted. The member will be notified of their final determination, and any additional disciplinary proceedings or determinations, by certified or registered mail or by any other means of delivery that provides AUGS with evidence of receipt. Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, upon the recommendation of the Board may temporarily suspend a member charged at any time, pending completion of the disciplinary process described herein.
The Board may transmit the results of a disciplinary proceeding or any information obtained during an investigation or hearing concerning a member, with or without a recommendation, to any medical licensing authority.