The answer is no.
The doctor does not have the luxury of picking and choosing which questions he can and cannot answer during his deposition.
You should know that a deposition is a question and answer session, given under oath, in the lawyer's office.
When I question the doctor who is being sued for medical malpractice, this questioning occurs in an informal setting.
We typically will have this question and answer session at a conference room table.
A court stenographer will be present to record all of my questions and all of the doctor's answers.
The doctor's answers are transcribed and put into a booklet known as a transcript.
The doctor's answers form the basis for his pretrial testimony.
Even though there is no judge or jury present during his questioning, the doctor's answers carry the same exact weight as if he were testifying at trial.
There are instances where the doctor will not like the question being asked.
A question might ask him to admit or deny whether he violated the basic standards of medical care.
He might get upset when he hears this question.
He might refuse to answer this question.
The reality is that the doctor does not have that luxury to pick and choose which questions to answer and which ones not to answer.
Instead, the doctor must answer all questions put to him even if his attorney objects and claims they are not relevant to the issues in the case.
There are two exceptions to this rule.
The first is if I ask a doctor to divulge information about conversations he had with his attorney. That's a no-no.
Legally, we say that that conversation is privileged and confidential. That would be true.
That means I cannot ask the doctor to discuss with me what he spoke to his attorney about.
Another instance where the doctor would be well within his right not answer my question is if I ask him something so outrageous and improper and it's got nothing to do with the claims of malpractice or any of the defenses.
Those are the only two instances where the doctor will not have to answer my questions.
In all other instances, he must answer the question even if his lawyer objects to my question.
The reason the attorney will object is to preserve his right at the time of trial to try and prevent the doctor from having to answer the same question in front of a jury.