The American Academy of Pediatrics joins with other specialty organizations in emphasizing the obligation of objectivity when its members respond to requests to serve as expert witnesses in the judicial system. Regardless of the source of the request, such testimony ought to embody the relevant facts and the expert's knowledge, experience, and best judgment regarding the case. At the same time, the AAP reiterates that it cannot condone participation of its members in legal actions in which their testimony will impugn some performances that clearly fall within the accepted standards of practice or, conversely, will endorse some obviously deficient practices. Because experts are relied upon to help courts and juries understand the "standards of practice" as applicable to a given case, care must be exercised that such "expert testimony" does not narrowly reflect the experts' views about applicable standards to the exclusion of other acceptable choices. The Academy considers it unethical for any expert to provide testimony that does not adhere scrupulously to the goal of objectivity.
The AAP also recognizes its responsibility and that of its Fellows for continued efforts to improve health care for children. However, the Academy believes that many claims of medical malpractice represent the response of a litigation-oriented society to a technologically advanced form of health care that has, unfortunately, fostered some unrealistic expectations and often unexpectedly high risks. As technology continues to become more complex, risks as well as benefits continue and sometimes increase, making a complication-free practice of medicine less and less probable.
- Copyright © 1989 by the American Academy of Pediatrics