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New York City Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Judgment Call is the Most Common Defense of a Doctor

By Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff, LLP. posted in Medical Malpractice on Sunday, March 15, 2015.

One of the most common defenses that doctors and their attorneys use in medical malpractice cases is the judgment call defense. When you bring a lawsuit against a doctor, claiming he did something wrong, the doctor could say at trial that it was his medical judgment to treat this patient in the way he was treated.

One of the most common defenses that doctors and their attorneys use in medical malpractice cases is the judgment call defense. When you bring a lawsuit against a doctor, claiming he did something wrong, the doctor could say at trial that it was his medical judgment to treat this patient in the way he was treated.

The doctor will say that he had a number of options available, and the option he chose was to do this particular procedure. He refuses to take the blame for the patient suffering harm or complications because of the procedure.

Why is Judgment Call an Effective Defense?

Judgment call is the most common defense and it is an amazing defense for a doctor. It is a salient and sometimes indestructible defense because who better than the doctor would know what the problems were, who better than the doctor could see the options available during surgery, and who better than the doctor could decide what the right treatment for the patient could be, especially when the patient has been consulting the doctor for a period of time?

The doctor can easily say that the decision he took was correct in his medical opinion, and he has enough experience in the field to make this judgment call.

Secondly, the jury also likes to hear that the doctor has exercised his or her best judgment. Lastly, there is an instruction that is given by the judge to the jury at the end of the trial, which says-if you believe that the doctor was exercising his best medical judgment then you should rule in favor of the doctor. Hence, when you consider all these factors, judgment call is a superlative defense for a doctor.

Just because a patient suffers injury or complication after a treatment procedure, it does not necessarily mean there was wrongdoing. However, it is very difficult for patients to accept this fact, even when their medical malpractice attorneys try to explain it to them. Therefore, if you are planning to file a case after suffering injury from a medically acceptable treatment, medical malpractice is not a given. Just because you have developed a complication after the treatment, it does not necessarily mean there was wrongdoing.

What You should Know

You will be focusing on your injury and therefore will think something was done wrong; however, your attorney has the job of connecting your injuries to what was completed during the surgery, and establish that what was done is a violation of basic standard of medical care. Your attorney will first try to ascertain what it is that has caused your problem. Every single medical procedure and treatment has certain risks associated with it. There are risks, benefits, and alternatives for everything that is done in terms of medicine.

Your lawyer will therefore ask you, whether your doctor discuss with you, the risks and advantages of the particular treatment, and the alternative options. Therefore, the main question is whether the doctor explained to the patient what he needed to know to offer his informed consent? All doctors outline the risks of the procedure or treatment (well if this doctor did not, then that opens a can of worms), and therefore judgment call is usually an effective defense.

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