Medical Malpractice Statutes

Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 233 § 79C. Normally, a statement made outside of court, such as a statement in a book or periodical, constitutes hearsay and is inadmissible. G.L. c. 233 § 79C is a statutory exception to this rule. It allows the contents of scholarly books and articles to be admitted into evidence in medical malpractice and certain other cases, so long as the author of the writings is recognized as an authority in her profession and the material is relevant to the case. The statute contains some procedural hurdles: the party intending to offer the scholarly writings into evidence must notify the other side's attorney not less than thirty days before trial and inform the other side of the title of the periodical, book or pamphlet, its date of publication, the publisher and, if practicable, the page number.

Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 112 § 12B. This statute protects "Good Samaritan" doctors who render emergency care as volunteers (without receiving any payment for their services). So, if a doctor finds you lying unconscious in a ditch by the side of the road and begins treating you, you will find it difficult to sue the doctor for malpractice even if he commits malpractice in the course of treating you.

Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 111 § 70E. This is the Massachusetts Patient's Bill of Rights. This statute confers a number of rights on patients, including a right "to informed consent, to the extent provided by law." Davis v. Petros, 442 Mass. 274 (2004).

In most non-emergency situations, a doctor must obtain a patient's informed consent prior to beginning treatment. In order to obtain your informed consent, a doctor normally has to warn you of all potential consequences that are important enough to affect a reasonable person's decision to go forward with the treatment.

Failure to obtain informed consent constitutes medical malpractice if the unconsented-to treatment results in any kind of physical injury, even one that no doctor could have prevented.

For more on informed consent, please visit our "Medical Malpactice: Lack of Informed Consent" page.

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