A Massachusetts Superior Court judge ruled that a doctor negligently failing to advise his patient, may be liable to a person injured by the patient. Judge Peter W. Agnes, Jr., denied the defendant doctor’s motion for summary judgment in the case of a motorcyclist seriously injured by a driver whose diabetes medication made him lose consciousness.
Judge Agnes ruled that the plaintiff produced evidence that the doctor for the automobile driver who fell asleep, deviated from acceptable standards of medical practice by not cautioning his patient against driving while on the medication. Judge Agnes went further, ruling that the doctor owed a duty of care to third parties who may be injured by the doctor’s patient. The judge based his ruling on principles of public policy and his expectation of how Massachusetts appellate courts would rule. While at least one other Superior Court judge has issued a ruling similar to that of Judge Agnes, neither the Massachusetts Appeals Court, nor Supreme Judicial Court, have decided the issue. Trial judges may decide the question of doctor liability to third parties, inconsistently, until the appellate courts issue a definitive opinion.