PracticeLink Magazine

FALL 2017

The career development quarterly for physicians of all specialties, PracticeLink Magazine provides readers with feature articles, compensation stats, helpful job search tips—as well as recruitment ads from organizations across the U.S.

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20 FALL 2017 ▾ MARCIA TRAVELSTEAD T HE CON T R AC T S & COMPENSAT ION ISSUE D E P A R T M E N T S Career Move Medical expert witness Name: Jennifer L'Hommedieu Stankus, M.D., j .D. Emergency medicine physician at Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, Washington Undergraduate: Chaminade University, Honolulu; University of Colorado, Boulder Medical school: University of Washington School of Medicine Law school: University of Denver Sturm College of Law Internship/Residency: University of New Mexico, Albuquerque L'Hommedieu Stankus was a captain in the United States Army JAG Corps and Assistant Center Judge Advocate at the Eisenhower Army Medical Center. She was a police officer for the Englewood, Colorado, and University of Colorado police departments. She has worked in a number of leadership positions and has written several publications. Now, she also provides expert witness services. What do you like about being a medical expert witness? I love being able to work from home on my own schedule because my emergency department schedule is so chaotic. I like having a 9-to-5 schedule with my husband. It's really nice to be able to have that flexibility and be able to decrease the number of shifts that I work. What's the most challenging part of the role? You need to be credible to do plaintiff and defense work. Testifying against another physician is always difficult because your heart goes out to them. You know that if you go to court, you have to look them in the face and do your job knowing what an impact you could have on their life. On the other hand, when there is negligence and injury results, the injured person deserves to be compensated. When you do your job objectively and you're testifying against another physician, there can be backlash against you. You have to be objective and careful in your answers but you have to know that may happen. Your testimony will be scrutinized much more heavily than if you are defending a doctor. You have to be absolutely certain of your opinion. Did you go into law before you went into medicine? I was a medical malpractice attorney prior to becoming an emergency physician, so this is right up my alley. ...Most physicians who are expert witnesses do not have that background. What does a medical expert witness do? It could be insurance fraud or forensic-type work. Most of the time, it's a medical malpractice case either for the plaintiff or for the defending doctor. What that entails is the medical chart review and then rendering an opinion — sometimes written, often just verbal. Some experts also do independent medical examinations. You also need to provide your own supplemental malpractice insurance. What surprised you about the expert witness role? I'm very logical, matter-of-fact and practical. When I see negligence, it deserves to be compensated. I didn't

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