Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Correction And Apology

Eli Lilly: Correction and apology

BMJ 2005; 330 doi: (Published 27 January 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;330:211

Rapid Response:

"Witness FOR the plaintiffs"????

I was disappointed to see the way in which the BMJ refered to Dr
Breggin in this apology:

"The same article described Dr Peter Breggin as "the medical witness
for the Wesbecker case." He was, in fact, the expert witness for the

Surely he was an expert witness "called by" the plaintiffs and an
expert witness "for" the court itself. To call him an expert witness "for"
the plaintiffs perpetuates the myth that expert witnesses are biassed in
favour of those who ask, and pay, them for giving the benefit of their
expertise to the court.

I would have expected the BMJ, especially since Lord Woolf's report,
to lead the thinking away from witnesses being called "for" either side
and to be emphasising the fact that expert witnesses are there "for" the

Competing interests:
Have been called as an expert witness by both plaintiffs and defendants in medical negligence cases, and have served on Medical Tribunals in New South Wales in disciplinary matters.

Competing interests: No competing interests

13 February 2005
Peter C Arnold
Retired GP
Sydney, Australia