Feature Professional conduct

Acting as an expert witness

BMJ 2008; 337 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.a933 (Published 24 July 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:a933
  1. Graeme Catto, president
  1. 1General Medical Council, London
  1. opce{at}gmc-uk.org

    On the day the General Medical Council publishes its guidance on acting as an expert witness, Graeme Catto, the council’s president, explains the background to the document

    The GMC has produced new guidance for doctors, on Acting as an Expert Witness.1 As well as being a source of guidance for doctors, we hope that it will help to clarify, for the legal profession, the boundaries within which medical experts operate.

    Society needs doctors to act as expert witnesses; they are essential to our judicial and tribunal systems and help resolve disputes that require specialist medical knowledge. In recent years, however, there have been several high profile cases where medical expert witnesses have attracted criticism—for example, for giving evidence that was misleading or failing to disclose relevant information.

    In light of the resulting debate, which included the chief medical officer’s report Bearing Good Witness,2 the GMC welcomed the call for clarification of its guidance for expert witnesses. Acting as an Expert Witness …

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