NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Doctors' Credibility Questioned in Class Action Suits

December 10, 1996

A small group of second-rate doctors are realizing big money by testifying as "expert, professional witnesses" in silicone breast implant cases -- thereby subverting not only medicine, but justice, according to medical experts.

Dr. Nancy Dickey, head of the American Medical Association's board of trustees, charges that a few misguided doctors are doing irreparable harm "by substituting unsubstantiated hypotheses and personal testimonials for scientific analysis in mass tort litigation cases..."

Among her charges:

  • The doctors contend that silicone in the implants triggers autoimmune disorders -- despite the fact that women who have never had the implants develop the same diseases in the same proportions as those who have the implants.
  • These same doctors are marketing phony silicone detection tests to worried breast implant recipients at prices ranging from $200 to $350 per test; the FDA has called them worthless.
  • The attacks on silicone breast implant manufacturers has had a chilling effect on thousands of other vital medical devices which rely on silicone.

Dr. Dickey points out that one benefit may be observed in the implant controversy: the scientific evidence on the side of silicone has become so overwhelming that judges now are beginning to reexamine how expert testimony on scientific and technological issues is used in the courtroom.

Source: Nancy Dickey, M.D., "Professional Witnesses are Tarnishing Medicine," Investor's Business Daily, December 10, 1996.


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