The Physicians’ Desk Reference – Can They Use it Against You?

In a recent Louisiana case involving the tragic story of a young lady who committed suicide four days after being prescribed a sleep aid,Plaintiffs tried to use only the Physicians’ Desk Reference (“PDR”) to establish the standard of care in their argument against the health care provider.  No expert testimony was proffered.  But the Court refused to permit the PDR alone to establish the standard of care for prescribing medication, and granted summary judgment for the Defendant.

The PDR is a published compilation of manufacturers’ prescribing information on prescription drugs and medical devices that have been approved by the FDA.

The Louisiana court, like Maryland and other states, correctly concluded the manufacturer’s warnings are not intended to serve as a professional standard of medical practice.  Rather, the Court recognized that physicians must exercise independent medical judgment in prescribing medications and develop their own practices regarding what to convey to a patient when prescribing medications or utilizing medical devices.

Bottom Line: Don’t let Plaintiffs misuse the PDR in litigation.  The PDR alone does not establish the standard of care covering a physician’s prescription or use of medical devices or drugs.  In the end, you need expert testimony — not just the PDR.  

Was a drug involved in your case?   Does their case have merit?  If you have questions about this, or any other legal matter, please contact us.

Larry Waranch

Larry Waranch

Larry Waranch is an AV rated trial lawyer and a founding partner of Waranch & Brown. His practice focuses primarily on medical malpractice defense, medical licensure matters, administrative defense and general liability.
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