Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



Though it is true that in malpractice suits more than in any other type of litigation, the plaintiff must have a strong case on the merits, it is equally important and almost a necessity in most malpractice cases that patient's counsel carefully and thoroughly condition the jurors' minds from the very outset to a psychological acceptance of this type of litigation. Far too many veniremen, before they have been selected as trial jurors in a malpractice suit, have the attitude that (1) a "malpractice" suit connotes conduct either criminal, quasi-criminal or unethical on the part of the doctor or hospital; (2) the doctor may be deprived of his membership in the medical societies or lose his staff privileges at the hospital, or even lose his license to practice medicine; (3) he will lose standing with his colleagues in the medical profession; (4) his professional standing will be degraded in the eyes of his patients and the local community in which he practices; (5) as a consequence his medical practice may suffer with resulting loss of income; and (6) as a consequence of all this, a doctor or hospital should be protected from this type of litigation. Therefore, in addition to the routine questioning of each juror individually as to whether they have any friends or relatives who are doctors, nurses, employees of hospitals or engaged in any way in the medical field and whether they 'are biased in favor of or prejudiced against the medical nursing or hospital profession, they should be thoroughly and intensively questioned along the following lines.