Episode #: 63
Show: National 3
Airdates: Feb - July (see Programming Schedule for specific airtimes)

Finding expert medical witnesses

Medical experts, testifying as expert witnesses, provide scientific findings of fact. When you're faced with litigation, whether you're a defendant or a plaintiff, having the best possible forensic evidence often determines whether you win or lose. How Benchmark became the leader in this specialized field.
Broadcast Excerpts

Auto accidents, work injuries and class action law suits against the tobacco companies, controversies over breast plants and even criminal cases such as the O.J. Simpson trial in 1995. What do they have in common? Medical experts testifying as expert witnesses to provide scientific findings of fact. When you're faced with litigation, whether you're a defendant or a plaintiff, having the best possible forensic evidence to support your position determines whether you win or lose. But how do you find the experts needed to provide the accuracy in information one would need in a trial?

Well, our investigative team sought out and found a company renowned in this field. Its called Benchmark Administrative Services, recognized as a leader in providing full administrative support in the legal process. It supports 1200 healthcare and forensic consultants and serves more than 2500 law firms, and insurance companies around the country. 

Lets say you're an attorney or an insurance company in the midst of a high profile case and you need an expert to solidify your argument, locating medical experts and specialist able to review cases in litigation, is not an easy task.

Finding someone to make an objective and professional medical judgement on a complex case, which assist juries in forming opinions and making decisions that are based on fact, is the ideal of the administration of justice. But finding these experts is part of the problem. Having medical personnel agree to be a medical / legal expert in a case is a daunting task. And that's where Benchmark comes in.

Kelly Dennison (Vice President): "Our job is to help these physicians understand the differences between usual clinical practice and the legal complexities involved in resolving disputes. We help them see the benefit of learning legal aspects of the medical field. And in the long run they've told us that they have become better clinicians". 

And the reality is that there are a lot of complexities in resolving legal disputes that physicians need to know, including how to handle the tremendous paper work involved.

Kelly Dennison:

"Our service allows the physician to concentrate on the medical facts of the case, while we handle the scheduling, collecting records and helping the doctor complete the paperwork that his regular clinical staff has never encountered". 

And unlike other medical-legal organizations which use preset forms and boilerplate language, we've learned that Benchmark encouraged all consultants to maintain their individuality when preparing their findings.

Years ago when attorneys needed an expert in a case, getting a doctor to testify based on his or her professional medical opinion was almost impossible. Most attorneys and doctors saw each other as adversaries, mainly because of medical mal-practice suits.

Dr. John Chase (President): "Our goal was to assure a good name to both sides. Years ago when I was doing independent medical evaluations for insurance companies and law firms, I became concerned about the poor relationships between physicians and attorneys".

For years Dr.Chase has encouraged and lectured to other physicians to become involved as independent consultants. He helped them understand the legal processes they would encounter, and as the need for this type of service began to grow he expanded his operation to include workshops to these valued professionals on popular legal topics related to the medical field. It wasn't long before insurance companies and law firms began using Dr. Chase's company as a clearinghouse for independent consultants. The improved quality of independent review and testimony became much too valuable an asset in the successful outcome of their cases.

Today, Benchmark provides a wide variety of services to physicians, law firms, insurance companies, HMOs, insurance adjusters and even private companies. While there are hundreds of "finders groups" across the country to compile list of professional consultants willing to do independent evaluations, Business World News realized that only Benchmark provided these companies with comprehensive case management.

Case management helps them in identifying the right clinical and forensic specialists, coordinating their reviews, and providing administrative support. Benchmark also handles legal scheduling to get the right people and the right materials, in proper form, to the right place at the right time.

In addition to helping clinical and forensic specialists focus on the case issues, whilst handling the administrative support details, we learned that under Benchmark's direction, physicians are able to provide their professional expertise with a minimum of disruption to their own patients schedules or burdening their clinical staff with unfamiliar paperwork and legal reports. 

As a result, Benchmark has made a significant improvement in the quality, integrity and timeliness of the work of expert consultants in their contributions to our legal system of justice. Maybe now cases would be tried more fairly, with more accuracy and more certainty that those who are really guilty are brought to justice and those who are innocent are set free.