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Society brief encourages court to examine medical evidence as physicians do

The Wisconsin Medical Society filed a brief last Friday (Dec. 11) in the Wisconsin Court of Appeals in Bayer v. Dobbins, a case examining how courts should interpret and apply Wisconsin’s updated standard for expert testimony to medical evidence.

Wisconsin amended its statutory standard for expert testimony in 2011, adopting the Daubert standard applied by federal courts for over 20 years. The new standard requires that expert testimony, including expert physician testimony, be based on a reliable methodology and applied in a reliable fashion.

The Society’s amicus (“friend of the court”) brief in Bayer v. Dobbins, a medical negligence case, provides important perspective on what constitutes reliable medical evidence. The brief argues that “the Court has the opportunity with this case to provide significant guidance to Wisconsin’s trial courts in applying [Wisconsin’s expert testimony standard] to medical evidence. The Society can envision no more logical source of determining the reliability of such evidence than medicine’s own standards of reliability.”

The brief also outlines the concept of evidence-based medicine and urges courts to examine the reliability of medical evidence as physicians do, employing a hierarchy of evidence-based medicine when making treatment decisions. The brief, available here, was joined by the American Medical Association, which also provided financial support.

In Bayer, the trial court barred multiple physician experts from testifying regarding a potential alternate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries, despite the fact that the experts’ opinions were based on extensive peer-reviewed literature, specialty society guidelines and had been deemed generally accepted by other courts in and outside Wisconsin. The defendants, with assistance from an earlier brief by the Society, convinced the Court of Appeals to stay the case and review the trial court’s decision.

The Society will continue to monitor this case and update members on its outcome.

Back to December 17, 2015 Medigram