Forensic gynecology is a medical discipline which focuses on legal matters associated with the practice of gynecology. This can include risk management policies for hospitals and clinics, malpractice cases, and peer review of medical studies. It is closely associated with forensic obstetrics, as the fields of obstetrics and gynecology have been historically linked due to their considerable overlap. Physicians with an interest in forensic gynecology may work full time on forensic matters, or could split their time between medical practice and legal work.
One aspect of forensic gynecology involves the review of materials related to court cases. In a malpractice suit related to a gynecological case, both sides can retain expert witnesses who may look at patient records and testify in court. They can discuss the accepted standards and practices, and whether a patient received an adequate level of care prior to a bad outcome. Consultants may be active in practice and also tend to have a publication history in medical journals, which they use to establish themselves as experts in the field.
While civil trials related to malpractice are the primary place where forensic gynecologists can be seen in court, they may also be called in criminal trials. Some cases may require testimony from a medical expert to discuss the nature of injuries and their implications. These expert witnesses can testify for the defense or the prosecution to provide more information for the jury.
Hospitals and clinics may work with a specialist in forensic gynecology to develop policies and procedures. These can protect the health of patients by setting clear standards that are in line with the medical community as a whole. They can also provide some protection against malpractice suits, as the consultant can provide information specifically geared at preventing suits and generating documentation to use as a defense if they occur. Some insurance companies may offer incentives to facilities who consult experts, as they can lower the risk of a suit and increase the chances of a successful outcome if a patient does take a matter to court.
Peer review can also call for forensic gynecology consultants. These specialists can review cases when they become topics of discussion and hospitals want to discuss how to handle similar cases in the future. They can also read research papers, clinical trial documentation, and other materials prior to publication. Reviewers determine if the material is medically sound and if the methods used in a study adhere to scientific standards, making them replicable and reliable.