Go to navigation Go to content

"I Didn't Do It," Doctor Says. "The Nurse Did It," Doctor Exclaims. Do Doctors Ever Point Fingers at Nurses in a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Here in New York?

The answer is yes, but it doesn't happen often.

Want to know why?

For a few reasons.

One is that the doctors must work side by side with these nurses at the hospital or in their private office.

Nurses assist doctors daily.

Maybe they're scrub nurses in the operating room.

Maybe they're a nurse in the doctor's private office.

Maybe the nurse is responsible for taking vital signs and writing common prescriptions.

In some cases the doctor's attorney tells the doctor NOT to point fingers at the hospital staff.

Why not?

They both might work for the same professional corporation.

They both might work for the same hospital.

They both might work for the same medical practice.

From an insurance standpoint, that could become a nightmare.

Both the doctor and nurse might be insured by the same insurance company under the same insurance policy.

If a doctor points a finger and accuses a nurse of violating the basic standards of medical care, it simply deflects responsibility to someone who is still insured by the same insurance policy.

If the doctor or the nurse then becomes legally responsible to pay a settlement or a verdict, pointing fingers at the nurse simply may give an injured patient and her attorney more ammunition to use at trial.

As someone who only helps injured patients, I personally love to see when a doctor points fingers at one or more nurses.

It creates conflict.

It creates drama.

It causes infighting amongst the people you have sued.

As long as there's infighting and finger pointing among the doctors and nurses you have sued, they have less time and effort to focus their energies on accusing the injured patient of causing or contributing to her own injuries.

It really allows us to sit back and watch the sideshow as the defendants, the healthcare professionals you have sued, fight it out amongst themselves about who really violated the standard of care causing you injury.

Attorneys representing injured patients, known as plaintiff's attorneys, love this scenario.

Often, if the doctor you have sued is a private physician and the nurses whom you have sued work for the hospital or some other corporation, each group will have their own lawyer representing them.

Each group has their own separate interests.

If the doctor accused of improper medical care truly believes that it was a nurse or hospital staff who caused you injury, he may have no choice but to admit that fact during his pretrial questioning known as a deposition.

On the other hand, if there is the slightest hint that a doctor is trying to deflect responsibility to the nurses and hospital staff, the defense attorneys will often do everything possible to tamp that urge down so that there is no infighting among the defendants.

Common defenses that doctors and their attorneys use all the time...

We didn't do it!

But if we did it, you did it also.

Ok, if we did it, so did you and guess what?

Those injuries that you say are really bad? Well, they're not.

I like to say that this is the"Don't blame me defense. "I did nothing wrong!" exclaims the physician.

Then, the doctors like to say that even if they did something wrong, so did you.

What they're really saying is that you contributed to your own injuries.

Then, after arguing that they did nothing wrong, they will say that if they did something wrong, you contributed to your own injuries as well. 

Next, they'll focus on how badly injured you were.

Let me correct that.

They will argue that your injuries are not really as bad as you claim them to be.

In some rare instances, I have seen a nurse pointer finger at a careless doctor.

The nurse might have some vendetta against the doctor.

The doctor might have crossed her at some point during her career and now it's her opportunity to get back at the doctor.

Regardless, it happens far less often that a nurse points a finger at a doctor.

In many cases involving medical malpractice lawsuits, we often claim that not only did your doctor violate the basic standards of medical care but nurses and hospital staff did as well.

You should know that in New York, we are required to have a qualified medical expert confirm that (1) there was medical carelessness, (2) that medical carelessness caused your injury and (3) that your injury is significant or permanent.

Only when a medical expert confirms all three of those things are we permitted to go forward and file a lawsuit on your behalf.

Likewise, when your case gets to trial about 2-3 years later, we are required to bring in our medical experts to testify about their opinions and conclusions.

If one of our claims is that the nurses we're careless and caused you harm, we need to have a medical expert testify about that.

Likewise, our medical expert must also testify that the doctor whom you sued violated the basic standards of medical care causing you permanent injury.

Our medical expert must describe what should have been done and how your outcome and your injuries would have been minimal or nonexistent had this doctor treated you appropriately.

When the doctor points a finger at a nurse, it always becomes a challenge for the attorneys who represent them in order to present a unified defense.

To learn even more about doctors pointing fingers at nurses, I invite you to watch the quick video below...