Legal Background

Dr B immediately appealed the verdict, arguing that the lower court “improperly instructed the jury on causation and the evidence required to prove it, failed to limit the expert testimony, and allowed the family’s attorney to make inappropriate arguments to the jury.”

The Supreme court of the state rejected all of Dr B’s arguments but one. Dr B argued that the plaintiff’s closing argument was improper because the plaintiff’s attorney suggested that the verdict would have either a beneficial or adverse impact on the community depending on how the jury decided. The Supreme court agreed that this was an error, but ultimately held that it was a harmless error and would not have changed the ultimate outcome of the case. 

Protecting Yourself

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When making a differential diagnosis, it is crucial to rule out the most dangerous/serious/life threatening possibility first. Dr B failed to do this when he ignored the patient’s complaint of left-hand numbness, dizziness, and foot numbness at her first December appointment, and ignored her complaints of blurred vision, dizziness, increased numbness and high blood pressure at the second appointment. These could all be signs of something more serious that may require urgent treatment.

The experts faulted Dr B for not listening to Mrs C’s carotid artery for signs of stenosis, for failing to consult with a neurologist, and for not simply admitting Mrs C to the hospital for tests, which plaintiff’s counsel argued would have been the safest course of action.

Finally, Dr B was faulted for deciding to “guess instead of test,” failing to fully explore Mrs C’s symptoms, and failing to use common sense when he dismissed Mrs C’s concern about a stroke without any investigation.