California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) (2017)

505. Success Not Required

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505.Success Not Required
[A/An] [insert type of medical practitioner] is not necessarily negligent
just because [his/her] efforts are unsuccessful or [he/she] makes an error
that was reasonable under the circumstances. [A/An] [insert type of
medical practitioner] is negligent only if [he/she] was not as skillful,
knowledgeable, or careful as other reasonable [insert type of medical
practitioners] would have been in similar circumstances.
New September 2003
Directions for Use
Plaintiffs have argued that this type of instruction “provides too easy an ‘out’ for
malpractice defendants.” (Fraijo v. Hartland Hospital (1979) 99 Cal.App.3d 331,
343 [160 Cal.Rptr. 246].) Nevertheless, in California, instructions on this point
have been sustained when challenged. (Rainer v. Community Memorial Hospital
(1971) 18 Cal.App.3d 240, 260 [95 Cal.Rptr. 901].)
Sources and Authority
• “While a physician cannot be held liable for mere errors of judgment or for
erroneous conclusions on matters of opinion, he must use the judgment and
form the opinions of one possessed of knowledge and skill common to medical
men practicing, in the same or like community and that he may have done his
best is no answer to an action of this sort.” (Sim v. Weeks (1935) 7 Cal.App.2d
28, 36 [45 P.2d 350].)
• “The ‘law has never held a physician or surgeon liable for every untoward
result which may occur in medical practice’ but it ‘demands only that a
physician or surgeon have the degree of learning and skill ordinarily possessed
by practitioners of the medical profession in the same locality and that he
exercise ordinary care in applying such learning and skill to the treatment of his
patient.’ ” (Huffman v. Lindquist (1951) 37 Cal.2d 465, 473 [234 P.2d 34],
internal citations omitted.)
• It is appropriate to instruct a jury that “they do not necessarily adjudge whether
there was negligence in terms of the result achieved . . . .” (Dincau v.
Tamayose (1982) 131 Cal.App.3d 780, 800 [182 Cal.Rptr. 855].)
• “[A] physician and surgeon is not required to make a perfect diagnosis but is
only required to have that degree of skill and learning ordinarily possessed by
physicians of good standing practicing in the same locality and to use ordinary
care and diligence in applying that learning to the treatment of his patient.”
(Ries v. Reinard (1941) 47 Cal.App.2d 116, 119 [117 P.2d 386].)
• “A doctor is not a warrantor of cures nor is he required to guarantee results and
in the absence of a want of reasonable care and skill will not be held
responsible for untoward results.” (Sanchez v. Rodriguez (1964) 226 Cal.App.2d
439, 449 [38 Cal.Rptr. 110].)
Secondary Sources
6 Witkin, Summary of California Law (10th ed. 2005) Torts, §§ 933, 934
California Tort Guide (Cont.Ed.Bar 3d ed.) § 9.5
3 Levy et al., California Torts, Ch. 30, General Principles of Liability of
Professionals, § 30.01 (Matthew Bender)
36 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 415, Physicians: Medical
Malpractice, § 415.11 (Matthew Bender)
17 California Points and Authorities, Ch. 175, Physicians and Surgeons, § 175.38
(Matthew Bender)