Fitzgerald Building, 150 College Street, Room 139
  • February 7, 2018 from 4:10pm to 5:30pm

Patrick Garon-Sayegh, S.J.D. Candidate, Faculty of Law and Joint Centre for Bioethics, University of Toronto

About the seminar:
An unfortunate reality of medical practice is that patients occasionally get injured while receiving care. Sometimes patients get injured even though their physician did everything right, whereas other times it is because their physician was at fault in failing to properly do their job. The difficult question is: how do we distinguish cases where there was fault from those where there was no fault? To answer this question, we must first determine what the “right” way to care for the patient was in the specific case. This is a fundamental determination that all judges must make in medical liability cases—where a physician is sued by a patient for injury allegedly caused by the physician’s medical actions. Since judges lack medical training, they need help in assessing the quality of physicians’ work. This help inevitably comes from other physicians providing evidence as expert witnesses. Usually, the parties hire medical experts with opposing assessments: the patient’s experts testify that the physician’s actions were medically wrong, and the physician’s experts reply that they were medically right. It is up to the judge to decide which expert to believe. This seminar will draw attention to under-examined aspects of medical expert evidence, aspects tied to questions such as: How do medical experts argue as they attempt to convince judges? How do they articulate their claims given the rival expert’s opposite claims? And how do they defend their claims when challenged by lawyers? I will argue that addressing these neglected questions can enrich our understanding of standards of care, not only from the standpoint of law, but also from the standpoints of medicine and bioethics.

This seminar is free and open to the public. No registration required. It will also be webcast live and then archived on the JCB website.