Is the Medical Judgment Rule on Life Support?

Is medical judgment an oxymoron?

N.J. medical malpractice

Medical judgment?

The genesis of the medical judgment rule is found in Schueler v. Strelinger, 43 N.J. 330 (1964). The N.J.  Supreme Court states:

When a surgeon selects one of two courses (of treatment) either of which has substantial support as proper practice by the medical profession, a claim of malpractice cannot be predicated solely on the course pursued. This is because when “a matter (exists) about which there are differing schools of medical opinion.,..the plain inference is that the matter must be left to the good faith judgment of the experienced attending surgeon”

There are numerous instances when the medical judgment charge is no longer included in a medical or dental negligence case. The current incarnation requires a judge and attorneys to analyze the evidence  in detail, on the record, to determine whether medical judgment applies, and if so, to which issues.  Das v. Thani, 171 N.J. 518 (2002). When the Defense raises the issue of medical judgment involving two or more reasonable treatment options, the court should also give an informed consent charge. The patient has a right to be informed of the benefits  and risks of each treatment option.

Here is the Model Jury Charge 5.50G  ShapiroBerezin—Model Jury Charge__Medical Judgment.pdf


The medical judgment rule is highly prejudicial to a plaintiff.  The changes in the language, and application of the charge are equitable to both parties in a medical negligence case.  Reference  to a physician’s medical judgment is now focusing on proof that each alternative treatment choice made by a physician is in accordance with accepted standard medical practice.

A welcome change, indeed.


About Lawrence "Larry" Berezin

I retired from the private practice of law after a 35-year legal career and fight parking tickets for people like you and me. I love sharing valuable information and beating NYC parking tickets for the driving community in NYC

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