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When doctors lie on the witness stand

New York residents who are ill or injured and go to see their doctors or other health care professionals expect that the practitioners will exhibit utmost care in treating them. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, and in some instances a doctor's error can lead to the filing of a medical malpractice lawsuit. At trial, it is customary for both the plaintiff and defendant to call upon medical experts as witnesses.

As is the case in any type of trial, witnesses are sworn to tell the truth. A retired surgeon has told a contrary story, however. He has indicated that about 20 years ago in a medical malpractice trial brought against one of his colleagues, he lied to protect the other doctor's reputation. The jury subsequently ruled in favor of the defendant, although it is not known whether that false testimony was a key factor in the decision.

The doctor, who has now become a patient's advocate, said that many medical professionals viewed plaintiff's attorneys as a threat, and that they often would defend their coworkers or other practitioners in their profession without giving it a second thought. Many believe that they are protecting the profession as a whole and that simple mistakes should not necessarily be considered malpractice.

While this may seem like an honorable thing to do within their profession, the truth is, when doctors lie, people may not be able to recover their losses. Even more importantly, by covering for a medical mistake, they are opening the door for other patients to be harmed in the future.

Not all doctor errors constitute malpractice. Plaintiffs and their attorneys need to demonstrate that the harm was caused by a failure to exhibit the requisite standard of care.

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