Excerpted from SEAK’s DVD and Course: How to Excel as an Expert Witness in Medical Malpractice Cases
All right, so the first technique I’d like to talk about is citing sources when you are laying out the facts. So, people have fact sections that you see them a lot in these medical reports where they sort of lay out the patient history, etc. It is so useful to the reader to know where you got the facts. So actually making the citation after each sentence almost. Where did you get that? And trying to be as specific as you can. Not just saying, “Harrison Hospital,” but “Harrison Hospital progress notes,” or “Nurse Jones progress notes dated…” Whatever.
And then now you know exactly where that fact came from. So few people take the time to go that far with the facts. But let me tell you, when that happens, as the reader, I gain a lot of confidence in that factual recitation, when I see that every sentence is cited like this. It’s also a way for you to make sure you’re fact checking yourself, that you know where those facts came from.
When you’re thinking about writing these reports, you’ve got to be thinking that this is gonna be looked at by the retaining counsel, turned over to the other side, the judge is gonna look at it, potentially the jury is gonna look at it. This is a marketing document, in addition to a document that you are writing for this case. So that ability to show people how you…where you got the information, just a little thing like citing is gonna set you apart. And guess who else it’s gonna help?
You. When you are getting ready for deposition and for trial and you have to collect your thoughts, you go back to your report. “Where did I get that fact? Ugh, I gotta do my work all over again if I don’t cite it.” If you have it listed right there, you know exactly where you got it. It shortens your work.
So there’s a lot of work upfront with putting together a superb report, but those reports are worth their weight in gold. It helps everybody to do this, and too few people cite facts this way. They’ll write really long paragraphs and narratives that no one is gonna read, I can guarantee it. You want to make sure you format it in a way that’s readable, all right? And citing to each fact this way is a great way to do that.
Well, you can bury it, but you’re gonna have a lot of footnotes if you do footnote after each sentence. But you could, just right after, have a little parenthesis with where you got it from. Deposition, Jones deposition, page six, close parentheses. Sometimes people even go so far to say, “Line 20, page six.” This way you can find it. It’s amazing. It can be so helpful. Just that extra step. It takes a second. It takes a few seconds. But once you do it once, now you have it forever and everyone has it and everyone… What does that say about you? When somebody has a fact section that is cited, what does that say?
You are thorough. And not only that, you’re not making it up. There’s a place where you got this. That says something about you. It only says good things. And it’s good for the case and it’s good for the marketing.