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What is a Medical Deposition?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 05 November 2016
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A medical deposition is testimony from a medical professional which is taken out of court, often in a law office. This testimony may be used during investigation and discovery to gather information about a case, and if the witness is not available during the trial, the medical deposition can be read into the court record. People on both sides of a case use depositions to help build their case and collect information which may be valuable in supporting their position in court.

A common situation in which a medical deposition would be used is a malpractice case. Medical depositions can also be taken in other cases in which medical matters come up. An expert witness may be used, and in fact sometimes expert testimony is taken from several people to build up a complete picture.

Before a medical deposition takes place, the lawyers who will be present review their case materials carefully and formulate questions they would like to ask during the deposition. This can take days or weeks, especially with a complex case which may involve long medical records. At the deposition itself, a court recorder is present to record the testimony, and the legal team usually records it with audio and video as well.

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A number of different kinds of questions can be asked at a medical deposition. Usually the deposition includes a section in which the credentials of the witness are laid out, as this information will be used later. The deposition discusses the details of the case at hand, and the witness can be asked opinion questions like “In your opinion, did Dr. Y provide an appropriate standard of care to Patient X?” or “Given your knowledge of the situation, what kind of treatment would you have recommended for Patient Z?”

The purpose of a medical deposition may be to support either side of the case, with testimony showing that the defendant is guilty or acted reasonably, given the conditions and the circumstances. Because medical lawsuits can be extremely involved, lawyers tend to be thorough and meticulous about documenting the case and exploring every angle. Small warning bells like an unusual number on a patient's chart may end up being pivotal to the case, and a medical deposition can be used to highlight and uncover information which may be highly relevant.

When summoned for a medical deposition, the witness does need to respond. If a medical deposition is scheduled for a day which is not convenient, it may be possible to reschedule, and witnesses may also be compensated for hardships and their time.

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