The Cassidy Law Firm Blog

Friday, September 15, 2017

NJ Court Rules Treating Doctor Cannot Testify As to Standard of Care

What is the standard of care in medical malpractice cases?

A New Jersey appellate court recently ruled that a doctor who treated a patient after another physician allegedly made a surgical error could not state an opinion on the standard of care in the medical malpractice case.  The case adds to the body of law regarding medical malpractice and standards of care in New Jersey.  Medical malpractice is an ever evolving field of law, making it complex and challenging.  Our New Jersey medical malpractice lawyers at The Cassidy Law Firm discuss the case of Granovsky v. Chagares below.

Follow-Up Physician Cannot Testify as to Standard of Care for Defense

In the case of Granovsky v. Chagares, the plaintiff, Granovsky, underwent gallbladder surgery in 2009.  Chagares, the defendant, performed the surgery. Shortly after surgery, Granovsky complained of nausea and vomiting, and further appeared jaundiced.  Granovsky was then treated by Dr. Manuel Rodriguez-Davalos, who repaired the injury.  The plaintiff filed a medical malpractice action claiming that her injury stemmed from the surgeon severing the wrong duct leading from the bladder to the small intestine.

During depositions, the follow-up doctor, Rodriguez-Davalos testified that it is easy for doctors performing gallbladder surgery to cut the wrong duct due to the location and small size of the ducts.  Though a motion judge ruled this testimony should be inadmissible, at trial, the judge allowed the defense to introduce statements by Rodriguez-Davalos, even though the statements opined the standard of care.  

The appellate court ruled that the trial court incorrectly considered Rodriguez-Davalos to be an expert witness, rather than a treating physician.  Accordingly, the three judge panel ordered a new trial.  The defense has vowed to bring the case to the New Jersey Supreme Court for review.

Standard of Care in Medical Malpractice Cases

Medical malpractice cases center around the issue of whether the health care professional was negligent in treating the patient.  Medical negligence is measured by the medical standard of care.  The medical standard of care is defined as the level of care that a reasonably competent and skilled medical professional with a similar medical background would have provided under similar circumstances.   Typically, a qualified expert medical witness, often a physician that did not treat the patient, will opine as to the standard of care.  Contact a medical malpractice lawyer for help with your potential medical malpractice case.  

 


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