Alcoholic Physician's Negligence While Practicing Medicine

The fact that a physician may have been an alcoholic while practicing medicine does not, in and of itself, create a separate issue or claim of negligence; however, it is relevant "when that alcoholism translates into conduct falling below the applicable standard of care." Ornelas v. Fry, 151 Ariz. 324, 727 P.2d 819, 823 (Ariz. Ct. App. 1986). The admissibility of evidence lies within the sound discretion of the trial court whose decision will not be overturned on appeal absent a clear abuse of that discretion. Gamble v. Int'l Paper Realty Corp., 323 S.C. 367, 474 S.E.2d 438 (1996); Washington v. Whitaker, 317 S.C. 108, 451 S.E.2d 894 (1994); Carlyle v. Tuomey Hosp., 305 S.C. 187, 407 S.E.2d 630 (1991). Relevant evidence is merely evidence which tends to prove or disprove the existence of a material fact. See Rule 401, SCRE (defining relevant evidence as "evidence having any tendency to make the existence of any fact that is of consequence to the determination of the action more probable or less probable than it would be without the evidence"). The dictates of Rule 401 are subject to the balancing requirement of Rule 403, SCRE, which requires a court to exclude relevant evidence upon a showing that its admission would be more prejudicial than probative. See Rule 403, SCRE (excluding relevant evidence "if its probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice").