Jason Hautala RN
I had a lawyer call my boss asking for someone who would make a good expert witness in a case involving conscious sedation in the ER and the doctor was getting sued because the patient died after getting home. I agreed to look over all of the material and depositions and wrote several pages of opinion for him. That is the last time I put that much work into something like that without talking about payment. Apparently he didn’t like what I had to say because not only did I not get paid, but he never even wrote back thanking me for my time. I found that the doctor did everything right and there was no blame on him, but the nurse that was taking care of the patient really screwed up and I wrote that in my opinion, so I guess it was the hospital and not the physician that was paying for the lawyer and they didn’t like that opinion much.
I know there are some nurses that are known ‘experts’ and lawyers will develop a relationship with them and they can get semi-regular work, depending on population, etc, but from reading the testimonies of some of the other ‘experts’ from both sides, it was obvious they were just paid guns and were saying what their lawyer wanted them to say. The entire thing made me kind of sick, because neither side was interested in the truth, just just wanted ‘experts’ to say what they wanted them to say, and only those that were willing to say that got to go to court and get paid for their time.
If I were to do it again, I would tell them that sure, I’ll look over the evidence and write up an opinion for you … I charge so much per hour, paid ahead of time. I’m sure there are honest experts out there, but I can’t imagine they get called on as much as those experts with a willingness to support the side that is paying them. Had I been paid for my efforts, it would have been fun, but since I didn’t even get a thank you after spending several hours of my time reading and writing, it left a bad taste in my mouth.