When individuals are called as witnesses in a courtroom, they are instructed to tell the truth. "The whole truth and nothing but the truth." However, not everyone who takes this oath honors it fully. In addition, many individuals do stick to the truth but omit critical details or gloss over important information. After all, witnesses are human and generally wish to be perceived in a positive light.
This is perhaps especially true when the witness being called is either the subject of the case in question or is a colleague of that defendant. In medical malpractice cases, many physicians who have been accused of negligence are called as witnesses. In addition, many colleagues of these physicians are also called to testify.
When the truth is only partially revealed or important details are either glossed over or omitted during this testimony, it can be harder to hold negligent physicians accountable for their actions.
A culture of care
There is no denying that the vast majority of physicians are deeply concerned about the wellbeing of their patients. Many medical malpractice cases arise simply because physicians are human and make mistakes from time to time. But in addition to caring about their patients, physicians understandably care about each other. Medical colleagues spend a great deal of time together and bond over the stresses and rewards of their jobs.
As a result, and sometimes because they want to make sure that they will be treated similarly if their behavior is ever questioned, many physicians subscribe to the culture of colleague protection. They elevate the good about their colleague on the stand and downplay the questionable. This may be good for the individual physician in question but can seriously impact a legitimate plaintiff's case.
Winning the day
Ultimately, the reliability of physician testimony depends on the integrity of the physician being questioned at the moment he or she is on the stand. As a result, it is vitally important for victims to retain the services of an attorney who can present the most informed medical malpractice case possible. These informed cases can ultimately root out half-truths. Informed cases are also placed in the best possible position to "win the day" regardless of how forthcoming physician witnesses either are or are not.