WA Nursing and the Law- Expert witness and your rights

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29 March 2019
I'm just going to post a scenario based question relating to nursing and the law. In regards to being called as an expert witness, who can be the E.witness? Can you refuse? What information is the expert witness entitled to? The scenario is not 100% clear to me (may just be the wording)

A colleague of yours has been summoned as an expert witness following an adverse event in the hospital, in which she is employed, and the plaintiff is suing for damages. She has many questions and understands that there are claims of harassment by the patient’s family involved, following this adverse event.

a) Explain the term vicarious liability as it applies to this situation
d) What constitutes harassment?

What is the role of an expert witness?

Rob Legat - SBPL

LawTap Verified
16 February 2017
Gold Coast, Queensland
An expert witness, although engaged by one of the parties, is a witness to the court or tribunal and is there to assist by interpreting subject matter which is of a technical or special nature. Expert witnesses are constrained to giving evidence in their field of specialty, whatever that may be. Just because an incident happened in a hospital doesn't mean that you can tell what expert you need. It would depend on what the 'adverse event' was.

An expert witness would need to establish their expertise in the subject matter (usually going beyond a simple qualification, and generally requiring a suitable amount of experience) and constrain their evidence to that specific field. The party engaging is expected to put specific questions to the witness for their response, and to include the relevant evidence. The witness can ask for more information or clarification. If that isn't forthcoming, then their report needs to state the constraints of what was available to them in making the report.