Medico Legal work is a great opportunity to diversify medical practice by dealing with clinical cases using a different lens. The Medico Legal expert needs to have expertise not only in the field of medicine but a complete understanding of complexities related to medical-legal laws is also required. Medico Legal work is an interesting career for health practitioners. They are well respected as expert witnesses by barristers and solicitors for the claimant or defendant.
This blog will explore work is involved in a Medico Legal expert’s job, the skills required to become a Medico Legal expert and how can one become a Medico Legal expert in detail.
• What do Medico Legal experts do?
Medico Legal experts cover various disciplines like criminal cases, industrial diseases, injuries, medical negligence, child and family laws, personal injury, mental health, employment laws, civil laws, etc. The work of Medico Legal experts depends on their specific role, though the work of Medico Legal experts may include:
- Writing Medico Legal report
- Defending medical negligence claim
- Reviewing statements for submission to solicitors
- Preparing to give evidence as a witness in court
- Acting as an independent expert witness for the claimant
- Preparing liability and causation along with condition and prognosis reports for various cases like traffic accidents, stress, or child abuse.
• Which skills are required to become a Medico Legal expert?
The Medico Legal expert should have a deep understanding of laws along with clinical experience and medical expertise, along with that there are some more skills which a good Medico Legal expert is expected to have:
- Good time management
- Medico Legal works have varied work hours depending on the case unlike doctor’s shift so Medico Legal experts should be good at time management.
- Ability to handle emergency legal cases
- Urgent legal and ethical situations often occur in Medico Legal cases and call for immediate action such as consent issues for life-saving procedures and other ethical issues with a medical background.
- Insight into NHS structure
- Having insight into NHS structure will help you have a further understanding of daily-based interconnections.
- Observation and report writing skills
- Writing a Medico Legal report is one of the major tasks of a Medico Legal expert, so anyone planning to choose it as a career must be aware of report writing, and good clinical observation skills
- Good communication skills
- The Medico Legal expert should have good communication skills to convey the finding precisely and accurately for further legal proceedings.
- Good observation skills for the details
- Medico Legal work requires a fair investigation of the facts, and as a doctor, you may feel that a particular case resonates with your own experience, but you need to separate your own medical knowledge from your personal opinions. Especially when you are working as an expert witness, you are expected to give fair observation.
• How to start a career as Medico Legal Expert?
First, you have to be clear about the role you want to choose according to your clinical experience. Job vacancies are listed on the NHS jobs website. Job in the field of medico-legal depends on your years of clinical experience:
- Less than 5 years:
If you have less than 5 years of clinical experience then you can start with SHO level jobs such as claims handler. You can apply on the NHS jobs website or you can also contact your department manager.
- 5+ years’ experience:
If you have 5 years of post-qualification experience then you can become a medico-legal advisor MLA with any defense organisations. The job of medico-legal advisor can be part-time which can be managed along with your clinical commitments or full-time.
- 10+ years’ experience:
If you have the clinical experience of more than 10 years then you can opt for the career of an expert witness. It includes analysis of medical facts, dealing with a clinical negligence claim, medico-legal report writing for litigation. This job requires involvement in legal proceedings, attending court, and providing reports to the solicitors based on factual assessment.
To become a Medico Legal expert is a good option to have a professional degree or diploma in medical law and ethics. To become an efficient expert you can take training and courses. You can also read books, case studies, and journals of other practitioners along with learning the legal language. You need to pay attention to every agreement as an expert witness to mitigate chances of conflict or confusion. You need to learn about report writing for the legal process. All Medico Legal experts need to adhere to a code of practice for an expert witnesses to ensure the quality of their work.