Vascular Surgeons as Expert Witnesses in Malpractice Litigation

John Phair, Matthew Carnevale, Krystina Choinski*, Edvard Skripochnik, Issam Koleilat

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: This study investigates the role of vascular surgeons as expert witnesses in United States’ malpractice claims. Materials and Methods: We reviewed the Westlaw database from 1999 through 2014 using the search terms “vascular” and “surgeon”. Case defendant, plaintiff, allegation, and verdict were compiled. Surgeon expert witness demographic data including age, practice duration, scholarly impact (H-index) and practice setting were reviewed using faculty websites, state licensing boards, and Scopus database. Results: A total of 785 cases were identified, Three-hundred seventy-seven with a vascular surgeon as the plaintiff or defense expert witness. Vascular surgeons were defense experts in One-hundred thirty one (34.75%) cases, plaintiff experts in One-hundred eighteen (31.3%), both plaintiff and defense experts in Ninty six (25.46%), or unspecified in Thiry two cases (8.29%). Two-hunder eighty three individual expert witnesses were identified. Vascular surgeon experts who testified 4 or more times were likely to be plaintiff experts (32.5% versus 18.7%, P <0.05). Mean years of practice (23.5 versus 24.2, P = 0.10) between plaintiff and defense experts was comparable. Plaintiff experts were more likely in non-academic practice (64.4% versus 52.5%, P <0.05) with lower scholarly impact (H-index 12.8 versus 16.7, P <0.05). Conclusions: A small percentage of vascular surgeons were experts in multiple cases, especially as plaintiff witnesses. Vascular surgeons as plaintiff's witnesses have similar years of age, work less in an academics, and have lower scholarly impact than defense witnesses. While national organizations provide guidelines defining expert witness qualifications, the required credentials vary by State. Development of minimum qualifications nationally may improve consistency in expert credentialing and lead to more ethical trial representation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)532-538
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
StatePublished - Feb 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Academic
  • Expert Witness
  • Litigation
  • Malpractice
  • Vascular Surgery
  • Westlaw

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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