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Doctors Face Increased Liability

The state's Supreme Judicial Court has ruled in a case that could open the door for doctors facing legal liability beyond their patients.

Kevin Coombes was killed in 2002 when David Sacca fell unconscious behind the wheel and struck him with his car. Coombes' mother filed suit, but against Sacca's doctor, Roland Florio. She says he didn't warn Sacca about side effects, like drowsiness, while taking his medication.

A lower court threw the suit out, but yesterday the SJC said Florio was responsible both for his patient and anyone injured by a foreseeable accident.

Dale McGee, president of the Massachusetts Medical Society, said the decision hurts doctors because it "makes it difficult for physicians to prescribe medications if they can imagine the patient could not comply with reasonable use of the medication."

The SJC ruling means Florio can be sued for Coombes's death, but does not find him negligent.

This program aired on December 11, 2007. The audio for this program is not available.

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