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Medical Literature in Support or Against the Doctor's Position

In a medical malpractice trial, the plaintiff's lawyer will have the opportunity to question the doctor, who is being sued. Many questions can be asked surrounding the incident, at the deposition, or at the examination before trial, and during the trail as well. However, there are certain restrictions to the type of questions that can be asked during the deposition, and the defense lawyer can object to inappropriate questions.

Line of Questioning

The first line of questioning will be to establish what standards of care, the doctor thinks were expected in the particular situation. The doctor will be asked what standards of care are required, when the patient is suffering from the particular condition. The doctor will then answer the steps or things essential, and the lawyer will inquire if such a standard of care was made available to the plaintiff, or there were deviations from the basic standards of care.

Inappropriate Questions

The above questions are appropriate, since they are to do with the time when the incident occurred. In the second line of questioning aimed at the doctor, the plaintiff's lawyer might want to inquire whether the doctor had reviewed his treatment since the incident, and if he had found anything in support or in disagreement with the treatment, he had given.

At such questioning, the defense lawyer will most probably object, on the basis that what the doctor thinks now, is not related to the treatment given to the plaintiff earlier. Secondly, that cannot be the standard on which the jury is going to decide, whether the doctor has violated the basic standards of care. What the doctor thought, a couple of years down the road from the time the incident took place cannot be considered, since it has nothing to do with what actually occurred.

Questions can be asked about what the doctor thought, what he did, and why he did it, at the time the incident occurred. However, to ask the doctor whether he reviewed a medical literature or a document afterwards, in support of what he did, or which goes against his position, would be inappropriate. Therefore, the defense lawyer will object vehemently to these types of questions.

Objection is Technically Correct

The defense lawyer is technically correct in raising objections to such questions. In New York, objections can be raised by the defense attorney in two instances. The first is when the something is privileged, and the second is when the attorney thinks it is palpably improper. In the second instance, the lawyer thinks the questions are so bizarre or inappropriate that he feels his client should not answer. Such questions are not related to the claims in the case or the defense being raised.

In such instances, where the defense lawyer objects, the plaintiff's lawyer has only one option available, which is marking such questions for ruling. This means at a later time, or during the trial, the plaintiff's lawyer will ask the judge, whether or not the doctor can answer those questions.

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