Yesterday the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled that a doctor could be sued in the event that a patient causes injury to another due to effects from the drugs prescribed by the doctor. Yesterday’s ruling involved a 75 year-old man with emphysema, high blood pressure, and lung cancer. The man was prescribed several drugs to treat his various ailments. The man apparently fell asleep at the wheel and drove his car off the road striking and killing a 10 year-old boy. The mother is now attempting to sue the doctor who prescribed the medications for failing to warn his patient of the potential danger of driving while on the medications.
This is a very touchy issue and has been for years now. Many states are divided over the issue of physician liability in these types of circumstances. The side effect from some prescription medications can be intense and many carry warnings about driving or operating machinery while under the influence of the drug. The man had reported no side effects prior to the accident.
The courts vote was not a unanimous decision and a dissenting opinion was offered.
In a dissent, Justice Robert J. Cordy wrote that the ruling “introduces a new audience to which the physician must attend — everyone who might come in contact with the patient.”
For more information on this subject, please refer to the section on Car and Motorcycle Accidents.