My firm handles medical malpractice cases and it never ceases to amaze me how defense lawyers, hired by the medical malpractice insurance companies who insure the defendant doctor, always find some well-credentialed and well-educated doctor to come to trial and testify that the defendant did nothing wrong. We have seen some unbelievable situations. Recently, a well-traveled doctor who almost always testifies for the defense, was prepared to testify that the guidelines established by a national medical group, of which he had been President, were not authoritative and not an example of good medicine. Why would he do such a thing? Because the doctor whose actions he was supporting at trail had violated those very guidelines.
Now, a retired physician from South Dakota has acknowledged that, years ago in a medical malpractice trial, he lied on the witness stand to protect a fellow doctor. The doctor, Lars Aanning, wrote a letter to his local newspaper, many years after the event, confessing to what he had done. The statement was picked up by ProPublica and added to its Facebook page and read in part as follows:
About 15 years ago, I also found myself testifying on behalf of a colleague surgeon whose patient suffered a severe postoperative complication that resulted in permanent disability. I had never been on the stand before as a defendant’s witness. But I had no problem with joining in, and accepting the defense mantra that no negligence or breach of “standard of care” had occurred, and that the surgeon had “done everything right.” I wasn’t going to be a squealer—fat chance!
But from that very moment I knew I had lied—lied under oath—and violated all my pledges of professionalism that came with the Doctor of Medicine degree and membership in the AMA. I had prostituted myself to the loyalty demanded of me in the clinic’s employment contract: “Employee agrees to devote his full time and best efforts to the practice and affairs of his Employer…”
Pretty shocking right? Not really as it happens more frequently than one who has faith in the civil justice system would imagine. Kudos to Dr. Aanning for telling the truth. The only problem is that it occurred 15 year too late for justice to be served.