Pathologists and the judicial process: How to avoid it

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This review article covers the full range of issues concerning malpractice as it relates to pathologists. Following a brief summary as to the incidence and general statistics on the outcome of lawsuits as well as common pathology misdiagnoses resulting in lawsuits, the definition of malpractice is discussed. These include duty, breech of standard of care, proximal cause, and damage. Details are provided as to what a pathologist should do from the initial threat of a lawsuit, to the initial lawsuit, and through the initial physician/lawyer meeting. An in-depth analysis as to how pathologists should handle themselves through the discovery process and, in particular, deposition is provided. Plaintiff attorneys' goals at deposition are covered in depth. These goals include: 1) education about the pathologist's case and strategies; 2) impeachment of the pathologist's credibility; and 3) judgment as to how effective a witness the pathologist will be at trial. Various types of plaintiff's attorney at deposition are summarized. Also discussed is the postdeposition meeting with the legal representative, whether to settle, and specific issues relating to trial. Finally, general tips on how to avoid a lawsuit in pathology are reviewed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)527-537
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Surgical Pathology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 5 2001


  • Lawsuits
  • Malpractice
  • Pathology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Surgery
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine

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