You write fiction, right? So you have a certain creative license, right?
Ahem. . . .
Maybe the question should be: Exactly how important is respect for your readers?
I have a friend who I'll call Gun Guy. He's something of an expert having spent most of his adult life in law enforcement, hunting, private investigation, hunting, managing security operations for a large corporation, hunting, refining his skills at the shooting range, and oh yeah . . . hunting.
Gun Guy loves a good read. An otherwise decent detective novel gets used for target practice if the author messes up the weaponry. Sloppy and inaccurate details take him out of the story, and every writer knows that's one of the worst things you can do.
Do I blame Gun Guy for his passion? Not one iota. He's the perfect example of a reader I want to please. I both respect and fear his opinions.
Woe to the suspense novelist who doesn't do their research--even when 90% of what you learn never makes it into your manuscript.
The story I'm slaving over now involves a lot of medical issues. Medical? My background is mortgage banking and Mary Kay. I probably don't have a lot of medical knowledge in my internal database. Rather than make it all up, I've gone and found experts to help.
As a suspense novelist, you aren't looking for the perfect scenario. A perfect medical scene translates to b-o-r-i-n-g within the pages of a novel. Instead, you're looking for a plausible one. You don't want any reader--EVER--to toss your book against the wall (or shoot it full of holes) because you haven't respected them enough to investigate the facts.
Which brings me to the internet. What in the world did writers do before Google and other search engines? That said, I can't emphasize enough the importance of having a flesh and blood person off whose fabulous head you can bounce your newly acquired information.
In the end, you're right. Suspense novelists write fiction. Novels are supposed to entertain. But that doesn't mean we don't owe it to Gun Guys everywhere--and to the story--to make an attempt to get our background information accurate.
It's all better with friends.