In a recent medical malpractice lawsuit here in New York a doctor introduced into evidence clinical guidelines from the American Gastroenterological Association. He did that to show that he followed the guidelines put out by his medical association that he belonged to.

What was the problem?

The problem is that guidelines are not the same as the standard of care.

There's a very big difference. In this particular case, the court failed to give the jury instructions explaining the difference between guidelines that are published by a medical association and the standard of care.

That meant that the jury would likely infer that a doctor need not exercise his professional judgment regarding individual patients but could simply follow the recommendations established by his medical association. This is contrary to what was the standard of medical care.


Since the judge did not give the jury an instruction to explain the difference between guidelines from a medical association and what is the accepted standard of medical care, the appeals court found that this was not a harmless error and directed a new trial.

Halls v. Kiyici, 104 A.D.3d 502, 960 N.Y.S.2d 423 (1st Dept. 2013).

Gerry Oginski
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NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer