Appl Clin Inform 2023; 14(02): 290-295
DOI: 10.1055/a-2018-9932
State of the Art/Best Practice Paper

Identifying a Clinical Informatics or Electronic Health Record Expert Witness for Medical Professional Liability Cases

Dean F. Sittig
1   School of Biomedical Informatics, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Houston, Texas, United States
2   Informatics-Review LLC, Lake Oswego, Oregon, United States
Adam Wright
3   Department of Biomedical Informatics, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee, United States
› Author Affiliations
Funding None.


Background The health care field is experiencing widespread electronic health record (EHR) adoption. New medical professional liability (i.e., malpractice) cases will likely involve the review of data extracted from EHRs as well as EHR workflows, audit logs, and even the potential role of the EHR in causing harm.

Objectives Reviewing printed versions of a patient's EHRs can be difficult due to differences in printed versus on-screen presentations, redundancies, and the way printouts are often grouped by document or information type rather than chronologically. Simply recreating an accurate timeline often requires experts with training and experience in designing, developing, using, and reviewing EHRs and audit logs. Additional expertise is required if questions arise about data's meaning, completeness, accuracy, and timeliness or ways that the EHR's user interface or automated clinical decision support tools may have contributed to alleged events. Such experts often come from the sociotechnical field of clinical informatics that studies the design, development, implementation, use, and evaluation of information and communications technology, specifically, EHRs. Identifying well-qualified EHR experts to aid a legal team is challenging.

Methods Based on literature review and experience reviewing cases, we identified seven criteria to help in this assessment.

Results The criteria are education in clinical informatics; clinical informatics knowledge; experience with EHR design, development, implementation, and use; communication skills; academic publications on clinical informatics; clinical informatics certification; and membership in informatics-related professional organizations.

Conclusion While none of these criteria are essential, understanding the breadth and depth of an individual's qualifications in each of these areas can help identify a high-quality, clinical informatics expert witness.

Protection of Human and Animal Subjects


Publication History

Received: 20 October 2022

Accepted: 21 January 2023

Accepted Manuscript online:
27 January 2023

Article published online:
22 March 2023

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