LNCtips.com: Deposition Data Banks
As a legal nurse consultant, I periodically perform background checks and conduct internet research to check the cyber reputations of plaintiffs and defendants in lawsuits. But there's one type of research that I do only on testifying experts. If you're a testifying expert or work with testifying experts, you'll want to know about this type of research.
I'm referring to the use of deposition data banks. Deposition data banks, as the name implies, keep hundreds of thousands of expert depositions and make them available to their members. Two of the common deposition data banks are TrialSmith and LexisNexis Expert Research On-Demand (formerly known as IDEX, the term I'm going to use because it's simpler). Defense and plaintiff firms use IDEX. Only plaintiff firms use TrialSmith.
IDEX and TrialSmith are used to check the credibility of expert witnesses and to also possibly impeach them. In the world of politics, impeachment is a formal accusation of wrongdoing by an elected official. In the world of medical malpractice, impeachment means to discredit a witness. Attorneys try to discredit expert witnesses by reviewing their testimony to look for inconsistencies. For example, if an expert testifies in a plaintiff case that X causes Y but testifies in a defense case that X DOESN'T cause Y, that's an inconsistency.
Here's how IDEX and TrialSmith work. To check out an expert, a law firm provides the name of the expert as well as information about the case, to either IDEX or TrialSmith. For a fee, the law firm can then select a variety of reports on the expert including a listing of deposition testimony and publications written by the expert. The fee is waived if no information is available on the expert.
Let's look at an example. Let's say that I work for the defense and want to get an IDEX report on Dr. Jensen, an expert infectious disease physician scheduled to testify for the plaintiff. I expect that Dr. Jensen will testify that the defendant's treatment of the plaintiff's meningitis was below standard. After I order the reports I want, I'll receive them by email a day or two later.
I'll review Dr. Jensen's list of publications, if any, to see if he has written about meningitis care and management. I'll obtain those publications, at the attorney's direction, to see if they support the plaintiff's allegations. If Dr. Jensen's publications are at odds with the plaintiff's allegations, that's a potential inconsistency. I'll also look at a list of cases for which Dr. Jensen has testified. Again, if any of the cases involve meningitis, I'll obtain transcripts of those cases, as directed by the attorney, and review them for potential inconsistencies.
If you work in a law firm, you'll have access to deposition data banks. When you receive reports about experts, it's important to remember that standards of care change over time so correlate the dates of expert testimony and publications with standards of care for the same time periods. If you function as an expert, you won't have access to these data banks but be aware that the opposing side does. IDEX and TrialSmith don't offer memberships to independent legal nurse consultants. However, if your attorney clients get reports from a deposition databank, it's an opportunity for you as an independent to expand your services by reviewing deposition databank reports to look for inconsistencies.