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Legal Memorandum: Admissibility of Medical Articles

Issue: Are medical articles, excerpts, and guidelines admissible as evidence of the applicable standard of care for the administration of methadone?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure, Personal Injury & Negligence
Keywords: Admissibility of evidence; Medical articles; Methadone
Jurisdiction: Federal
Cited Cases: 530 A.2d 1141; 375 A.2d 1138; 154 Cal.App.2d 560; 914 F.2d 26; 88 S.D. 446
Cited Statutes: Federal Rules of Evidence, Rule. 803(16)
Date: 03/01/2007

In Garvey v. O’Donaghue, 530 A.2d 1141 (D.C. 1987), the court held that it was error for the trial court to exclude as evidence applicable pages of the Physicians’ Desk Reference (PDR) and relevant package inserts because, accompanied by expert testimony, they were relevant to the standard of care and the defendant physician’s notice of the drug’s side effects.

Generally, the PDR “is not conclusive evidence of the standard or accepted practice in the use of the drug by physicians and surgeons, nor that a departure from such directions is negligent.  But it is prima facie proof of a proper method of use, given by the maker which must be presumed qualified to give directions for its use and warnings of any danger inherent therein.”  Julien v. Barker¸ [272 P.2d. 718, 724, 75 Idaho 413, 422 (1954)].  At least one court closer to home has similarly characterized the admissibility of the PDR and package inserts, stating that “[t]he package insert . . . does not standing alone establish a standard of care, but rather prima facie proof of proper use….”  Nolan v. Dillon, 276 A.2d 36, 49, 261 Md. 516, 540 (1971) (intravenous injection of Sparine).  “[W]hile admissible, [the PDR] cannot establish as a matter of law the standard of care required of a physician in the use of the drug.” Salgo v. Leland Stanford University Board of Trustees, [317 P.2d 170, 180, 154 Cal.App.2d 560, 576 (1957)].  When the package insert or […]

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