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He was smart. He did well in medical school. Yet when I asked him what her medications were for, he had no idea. Can you imagine that? Going to a doctor and he doesn't understand why you're taking certain medications?

 This happens more often than you think.

You are under the care of a doctor who prescribes you medication.

You then go to another physician for different problem and he wants to know what medications you are taking.

There's a key reason for him to know what medications you are currently on.

He needs to know that in order to make sure any treatment or medication he provides does not conflict with the medications you are currently taking.

He needs to know if there is any interaction between the medication he is prescribing and the one that you are currently on.

As part of a basic history and physical examination, a physician is required to obtain a great deal of information to help him understand what problems you have and what treatment you are currently getting.

Let me show you what happened in a medical malpractice case I handled involving a patient's treating physician who had absolutely no idea what two medications the patient was taking or why.

This was remarkable.

My client believed that her doctor was careless at a particular time on a particular day.

She believed that his carelessness was a cause of her injuries.

She believed that those injuries were significant and permanent.

My medical expert confirmed each of those things.

He confirmed that my client's treating doctor violated the basic standards of medical care causing her significant injury.

That allowed us to go ahead and start a lawsuit on her behalf.

During the course of her lawsuit I had an opportunity to question the doctor whom she sued.

This is known as pretrial testimony.

It's also called a deposition.

Many lawyers also call it an examination before trial.

It's sworn testimony.

Except there is no judge present and there is no jury present.

This question and answer session takes place in the defense lawyer's office.

There is a court stenographer present to record all of my questions and all of the doctor's answers.

Those questions and answers then get transcribed into a booklet known as a transcript.

This pretrial testimony carries the same exact weight as if the doctor were testifying at trial.

As part of my questioning, I will ask the doctor to read his notes into the record.

This helps tremendously, especially if the doctor's notes are handwritten.

I will then ask him to explain what those entries mean and why he did what he did.

In this case, on the patient's very first visit, the doctor took a detailed history from the patient.

I asked him to explain the patient's history.

He was able to articulate and explain exactly what her medical problems were.

Yet when I asked him about the two medications the patient was taking, according to his notes, he had no idea.

He had no idea what these medications were for.

He failed to ask the patient the dosages that she was taking.

He failed to ask the patient why she was on these medications.

I asked him whether it was important for him to know and understand what medications the patient was on.

He agreed. He said "Yes."

I asked him why.

He said it's important to know if there are any drug interactions between what she is currently taking and what he may prescribe for her.

On that first office visit, he did prescribe her medication.

I asked him how he knew whether the medication he prescribed was contraindicated in light of the medication she was already taking.

He had no idea.

I asked him whether it would be appropriate for a physician to prescribe medication to a patient without knowing or understanding what medications she was currently on.

He said "No, it wouldn't."

I asked him why would he botherd to ask what medications she was taking if he didn't factor that in when taking a new medication.

His answer was pathetic and obvious.

"Because that's part of our history, to learn what the patient is taking."

I then asked "If you're not going to use that information to help you decide which medication the patient should be on, why bother asking the question in the first place?"

"It would be important to know to make sure there's no bad drug interactions."

He also admitted that it's a relatively simple matter to look up on the computer or his phone what those medications were for.

This doctor could not explain why he failed to do this.

He also agreed that it would be violation from good and accepted medical care to prescribe medication for patient without knowing whether it would interact with her current medications.

To learn even more, I invite you to watch the quick video below...


Gerry Oginski
NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer