Doctor Lied Under Oath to Protect Colleague, Now Admits It

Mark Crane


October 04, 2016

In This Article

Some Say Lying at Trial Is Not so Unusual

Rick Boothman, chief risk officer at the University of Michigan Health System and a malpractice defense attorney, has a different view of Aanning's article. "Someone lied on the witness stand? That's hardly news," he said.

"I have no reason to believe that this is more or less prevalent than the general level of integrity from the witness stand in any kind of litigation," said Boothman. "Hidden agendas, deliberate falsehood, selective recollections, biases, testimony for personal gain, and assumptions are all part of the human experience. This isn't unique to cases involving medicine.

"Matters of opinion can't easily be tested or double-checked as you can with testimony relating to hard facts, for which there may be collateral evidence," he said. "Opinions are opinions that can be affected by lots of things, including the passage of time. How can we know that this surgeon is telling the truth now?"

No malpractice insurer should tolerate witnesses who give untruthful testimony, said Mark Fogg, general counsel to COPIC, a Colorado-based liability carrier.

"It is always our expectation that witnesses will testify professionally and truthfully in accordance with the oath they take as witnesses," he said. "Medical care is complex, and circumstances often vary widely between cases. When subsequent treating physicians consider providing opinions beyond their own care, case evaluations should be based on a review of all the pertinent records, data, and other information."

Aanning, who is now a patient safety advocate, said he didn't feel better or worse after "coming clean" with his admission, but he had been haunted by his testimony ever since it happened.


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