You sue your internist, your surgeon and the anesthesiologist.
Each of these doctors have their own medical group. Each of them treated you separately. You believe that each of them is responsible for the injuries you suffered. You believe that each violated the basic standards of medical care that resulted in the harm for which you are now bringing a lawsuit.
You believe that if you asked your internist whether the surgeon was responsible, he would eagerly say “Yes.”
You believe that if you asked the surgeon whether the anesthesiologist was responsible, he would eagerly say “Yes.”
You believe that if you asked the anesthesiologist who is responsible, he would eagerly say “The internist is responsible.”
It would be ideal if you could get all three of these doctors to point the fingers at each other placing blame elsewhere. You might believe, naïvely, that simply because you suffered significant injury from these doctors' medical care, they would all be willing to point fingers at each other. Unofficially, that might be true.
However, the attorney who represents each of these doctors would clearly not permit any of them to willingly point the finger at any of the other physicians. They know that once one doctor begins to point blame at another, they have done the job of the injured victim's attorney.
It is rare indeed to see a physician pointing a finger at another doctor during a medical malpractice case here in New York. Instead, what will typically happen is that a defense attorney and their doctors will raise all sorts of defenses claiming why they believe they are not responsible for your injuries. Then, instead of pointing fingers at each other, they will instead point the finger at you, the injured victim.
This is a common strategy designed to change the focus of attention from the doctors to the injured victim.
They will place the blame on you claiming you did not follow instructions. They will claim you did not do what you were supposed to do. They will claim that you failed to use common sense or to mitigate and minimize your injuries.
Those defense strategies can and do work. They're designed to deflect the allegations against the doctor and hospital.
During the pretrial process, during depositions, also known as question-and-answer sessions, there are many instances where I will ask a doctor to comment on treatment rendered by another doctor in the case.
There is a specific case law currently available to support questions where I ask for opinions and conclusions about treatment rendered by other doctors in the case.
The problem is that the defense attorneys typically do not accept and recognize some of this caselaw. Instead, they continue to fight tooth and nail and argue that that specific case law is not applicable to these questions.
Where the doctors are working as a team rather than independent physicians who simply refer the patient to each other, there have been legal decisions where the courts have permitted one doctor to comment and critique the treatment rendered by another doctor.
Although you may believe that these doctors know in their heart that someone else may have been responsible for your injuries, getting them to testify about that during the pretrial litigation process and also trial can and will be very challenging.