A 12-person jury in Vermont jury began deliberations Thursday in a case that accuses a Burlington eye doctor of pressuring a patient into unnecessary cataract surgery. In closing statements last night, the medical malpractice lawyer for the plaintiff made a not very common argument in a malpractice case: that the eye doctor intentionally misinterpreted test results in order to perform surgeries. Most malpractice cases are against good, well-intentioned doctors who made a mistake. In this case, there is some foundation for the allegations: the doctor’s license was suspended by in 2003 following reports that he had engaged in unprofessional conduct with scores of patients by performing – you guessed it – unnecessary cataract surgeries.. The state’s Medical Practice Board in 2008 concluded that he had engaged in unprofessional conduct with 10 patients.
In a Maryland malpractice case, only 6 jurors deliberate to determine the case. In Vermont and some other states, that number is 12. That makes a huge difference in the dynamics of the jury deciding a medical malpractice case.
PS from February 24, 2009: A Chittenden County jury found no negligence in this lawsuit against the eye doctor. The message, as always, there is no slam dunk medical malpractice case although I wonder if this case was not more about the lack of proof regarding the Plaintiff’s injuries.