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Can you trust doctors' testimonies in malpractice cases?

In medical malpractice cases, doctors' testimonies typically carry significant weight in court. After all, they are the ones with years of study and experience in the medical field. But can you really trust their words?

The following story may give you pause.

Nearly 20 years ago, one physician was a witness for the defense in a medical malpractice case involving his surgical partner. His partner's patient suffered a stroke post-surgery and was left permanently disabled.

The attorney asked the doctor on the stand this question:

Did he know about any incidences where his partner's care of patients was substandard?

The surgeon replied "No, never."

He lied.

He now publicly admitted this, in both a newspaper column and in the Facebook group ProPublica Patient Safety. He stated that his testimony haunted him ever since, as the jury ruled in favor of the defendant.

The surgeon had already questioned the surgical skills his colleague possessed. He recalled other patients who went under his partner's knife who also were left injured after procedures. Yet he bit the bullet and lied on the stand anyway. It was part of an unwritten code that doctors protect other doctors.

In his interview with Pro Publica, the surgeon stated bluntly, "It was never a level playing field for the plaintiff. People don't recognize it. How the judges don't recognize it and the system doesn't recognize it is beyond me."

This worrisome story should enrage every medical malpractice plaintiff in America. This surgeon is far from the only MD who got on the stand and lied for a colleague. He just happens to be the only one who admitted it.

The case illustrates the challenges plaintiffs face when pursuing medical malpractice litigation. That's why it is important to retain an attorney who knows the ins and outs of North Carolina's medical malpractice laws and is willing to fight hard for victory for injured plaintiffs.

Source: Pro Publica, "Doctor Confesses: I Lied to Protect Colleague in Malpractice Suit," Marshall Allen, accessed June 09, 2017

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