Pennsylvania law states that in order to hold a doctor responsible for medical injuries, it must be proven that a victim suffered injury as a result of negligence or unprofessional action of the part of a doctor. Traditionally, plaintiffs are successful if they can show a court that a doctor caused them harm because the doctor either failed to inform them about possible risks or side effects from a recommended treatment, or acted in a careless manner during a procedure. Recent legal action has been brought before the state's Supreme Court to decide if a judge has the right to suppress expert testimony during medical malpractice cases.
The debate began when a lower court was handling the case of a woman that suffered a serious complication during surgery. The victim accused the doctor of being negligent, but did not confirm that the doctor failed to inform her of potential complications, nor did she dispute the fact that she had given consent for the procedure. The doctor argued that the injury was a result of a known complication, and was not caused by negligence.
The court heard expert testimony on behalf of both the plaintiff and the doctor, but ruled in favor of the doctor, deciding that the plaintiff's expert did not provide testimony relevant to the victim's case. The judge ordered that some portion of the testimony should be suppressed. The plaintiff chose to appeal the ruling, saying that the testimony of her expert should have been allowed.
If the Supreme Court overturns the decision, it will make it easier for victims of medical malpractice to prove they have suffered injuries at the hands of an errant doctor. It would mean that a jury would need to decide if a doctor could have avoided injuring a patient, even in the event of a known possible complication. Supporters hope the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will realize the relevance of expert testimony, and allow a jury to consider all the facts.
When a person feels he or she has been injured by medical malpractice, the situation may seem overwhelming. It can be difficult to decide how to take action against a medical professional. It can be beneficial to consult an experienced attorney. An attorney is typically up to date on the latest court rulings, and may be able to assist victims as they attempt to seek compensation for their suffering.