Articles Posted in Surgical Malpractice

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In New York, there are many acts and omissions that may constitute grounds for a medical malpractice claim. For example, if a doctor neglects to adequately inform a patient regarding the risks and potential consequences of a procedure, he or she may be liable for failing to obtain the patient’s informed consent. In some instances, though, the complete failure to get permission from a patient prior to performing surgery may constitute a tort other than malpractice. This was shown in a recent New York surgical malpractice case in which the court discussed the elements of a lack of informed consent claim as opposed to a claim for assault and battery. If you suffered harm because of a surgical error, you should speak to a committed Syracuse surgical malpractice attorney as soon as possible to evaluate what claims you may be able to assert in a civil lawsuit.

Factual and Procedural History

It is reported that the plaintiff underwent a surgical repair of a hernia that was performed by the defendant doctor at the defendant hospital. After the procedure, the plaintiff suffered injuries and complications. He then filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendants alleging, in part, that the defendant doctor failed to obtain his informed consent by failing to advise him of the potential consequences of the surgery, and performing procedures that the plaintiff did not agree to undergo. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the plaintiff’s claims sounded in assault and battery rather than medical negligence. The trial court denied the defendant’s motion, and he appealed.

Elements of a Lack of Informed Consent Claim

Pursuant to New York law, a medical professional may be deemed liable for an intentional act of battery, instead of medical malpractice, if the professional performs a procedure for which the plaintiff did not provide any consent at all. If a surgeon merely exceeds the scope of the consent provided by a plaintiff, however, any acts that fall outside of the permission granted by the plaintiff may form the basis of a valid lack of informed consent claim.

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Typically, a plaintiff pursuing claims for medical malpractice will ask a jury to assess both liability and what damages should be awarded to the plaintiff. While determining what constitutes appropriate compensation for pain and suffering is within the purview of the jury, if a jury issues a damages award that does not align with the law or evidence, the court may modify the award. The grounds for modifying damages awarded by a jury were discussed in a recent surgical malpractice case in New York in which the defendant filed a motion to reduce the damages the jury awarded the plaintiff. If you suffered an injury due to a negligently performed surgery, you may be able to recover damages for your harm and should speak to a diligent Syracuse surgical malpractice attorney.

Procedural History of the Case

It is reported that the defendant perforated the plaintiff’s small intestine while performing an endoscopy on the plaintiff, after which the plaintiff required a surgical procedure to repair the perforation. The plaintiff then filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant. At trial, the plaintiff’s expert testified that the plaintiff had a permanent scar on her abdomen that was almost eight inches long, and had an increased risk of developing hernias, bacterial overgrowth in her abdomen, and bowel obstructions due to the surgery.

Allegedly, the jury found in favor of the plaintiff, awarding the plaintiff $1,500,000 for past pain and suffering and $1,000,000 for future pain and suffering. The defendant filed a motion to set aside the jury’s verdict as excessive unless the plaintiff agreed to stipulate to lower damages. The trial court granted the motion, and the plaintiff appealed.

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In many instances in which a person undergoes a surgical procedure, there are numerous physicians taking part in the surgery. Thus, there may be multiple physicians who may ultimately be held liable for a patient’s injuries if an error is committed during surgery. In a recent New York surgical malpractice case, the court assessed whether a supervising physician could be held liable for medical malpractice for errors committed during the surgery and, if so, the basis for imposing liability. If you or a loved one sustained injuries due to a negligently performed surgery, it is prudent to speak with a dedicated Syracuse surgical malpractice attorney regarding your potential claims.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff underwent bariatric surgery to reduce the size of her stomach. The surgery was performed by the defendant bariatric surgeon, a second defendant surgeon, the defendant anesthesiologist, and the defendant nurse anesthetist. During the course of the surgery, two surgical instruments were stapled to the plaintiff’s stomach, which required a dissection and repair. The plaintiff then filed a medical malpractice action against the defendants. The defendant anesthesiologist moved for summary judgment. The court denied the motion, finding that as the supervising anesthesiologist, he maintained responsibility for the anesthesia care team. The defendant appealed.

A Supervising Physician’s Liability for Medical Malpractice

On appeal the defendant argued, in part, that per his usual practice as the supervising anesthesiologist, he was present when the plaintiff was placed under anesthesia and when her breathing tube was placed, he was not present for the placement or removal of either of the instruments that were stapled to the plaintiff’s stomach. Moreover, he argued that the placement or removal of those instruments did not constitute key elements of the surgical procedural, that required supervision, but that the stapling of the instruments was solely a surgical complication. Lastly, he argued there was no relationship between his alleged failure to supervise the rest of the anesthesia team and the plaintiff’s injuries.

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Most medical malpractice cases filed in New York are decided on their merits. In other words, if the case proceeds to trial, the judge or jury will ultimately decide the issue of liability and damages based on the evidence presented. In some instances, however, the outcome of a case will be determined by a party’s failure to comply with procedural rules. This was demonstrated in a recent surgical malpractice case arising out of Kings County, in which the court denied the defendant’s motion for summary judgment as untimely. If you suffered injuries because of an improperly performed surgical procedure, it is prudent to meet with a diligent Syracuse surgical malpractice attorney to discuss what damages you may be able to recover.

Factual and Procedural Background of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiffs, husband, and wife, filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendants after the defendants allegedly lost a prosthetic part in the plaintiff husband’s body during a hip replacement surgery. After the completion of discovery, the defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, asking the court to dismiss the plaintiff’s claims. The plaintiffs did not file a response to the defendants’ motion but instead filed a motion asking the court to dismiss the defendants’ motion as untimely. The court granted the plaintiffs’ motion to reject the defendants’ motion due to its untimely nature and denied the defendants’ motion as academic. The defendants subsequently filed an appeal.

Time Limits for Filing a Motion for Summary Judgment

Under the New York laws of civil practice, courts have the discretion to impose deadlines for when either party can file a motion for summary judgment, with the caveat that the deadline cannot be more than thirty days earlier or one hundred and twenty days later than the filing of the note of issue, unless leave of court is shown or good cause is established. In Kings County, the rules provide that a party must move for summary judgment within sixty days of when a note of issue is filed unless the party seeks leave of court or shows good cause for an untimely filed motion.

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In some cases in which a person is harmed by negligent treatment, multiple providers will participate in the person’s care, but not all of the providers will contribute to the person’s harm. Thus, it is not uncommon for either party to seek to depose non-party physicians as fact witnesses. There are limitations regarding what information can be elicited from a physician who is not an expert or a party, however, as demonstrated in a recent surgical malpractice case arising out of Bronx County.  If you sustained damages due to an inappropriately performed surgery, it is wise to speak with a proficient Syracuse surgical malpractice attorney regarding what evidence is available to support your claims.

The Deposition of the Non-Party Physician

Allegedly, the plaintiff’s decedent underwent an elective knee replacement at the defendant hospital. Following the surgery, the decedent was transferred to a recovery room where he became unresponsive. The decedent was resuscitated, but he ultimately died due to an anoxic brain injury. His estate subsequently filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the hospital and the defendant that performed the surgery. During discovery, the plaintiff’s counsel deposed the anesthesiologist that attended the decedent’s surgery. The defendants’ counsel objected to several questions presented to the anesthesiologist and directed her not to answer. Thus, the plaintiff sought a court order directing the anesthesiologist to answer.

Information Discoverable from a Non-Party Physician in a Medical Malpractice Case

Pursuant to the New York laws of civil procedure, counsel should be permitted to question witnesses at depositions freely, and any question posed should be answered unless the question is clearly improper or seeks privileged information. For example, in a malpractice action, it is improper to question a physician regarding the quality of care provided by another physician, if the question does not pertain to the potential negligence of the physician being questioned. If the question simply refers to the treatment offered by another physician, though, the physician being deposed cannot refuse to answer.

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Medical malpractice cases largely hinge on the sufficiency and persuasiveness of the expert reports submitted by either party. If the defendant does not have a compelling expert report, he or she may be found liable as a matter of law, whereas if the plaintiff lacks a strong report, his or her case may be dismissed via a motion for summary judgment. In a neurosurgery malpractice case recently decided by a New York appellate court, the court analyzed what constitutes a report sufficient to withstand dismissal via summary judgment. If you were injured by an improperly performed neurological surgery, it is prudent to consult a capable Syracuse neurosurgery malpractice attorney regarding your harm and what compensation you may be owed.

Facts Regarding the Plaintiff’s Treatment

It is alleged that the plaintiff was involved in a motorcycle accident, after which he developed extreme back pain. He underwent conservative treatment measures, which failed, after which he presented to the defendant neurosurgeon. The defendant diagnosed the plaintiff with spondylolisthesis at the L5-S1 vertebrae, and degenerative disc disease at the L4-L5 vertebrae and recommended surgery. The plaintiff sought a second opinion but ultimately underwent surgery.

It is reported that during the surgical procedure, the defendant removed the damaged discs, decompressed the plaintiff’s nerves, and fixated the spine. After the surgery, the plaintiff experienced severe back pain and discomfort in his left leg, which he stated was different than the pain he experienced before the surgery. He subsequently filed a malpractice lawsuit against the defendant. The defendant and the plaintiff both filed motions for summary judgment. The court granted the defendant’s motion, and the plaintiff appealed.

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Surgeons are highly skilled and trained and are required to provide treatment commensurate with their training. Surgeons sometimes fall short of the standard of care, however, and when they do, they should be held accountable for any harm they cause. A New York appellate court recently discussed what constitutes sufficient evidence of surgical malpractice, in a case in which the plaintiff alleged a spinal surgeon caused her injuries. If you or a loved one were harmed by a negligent surgeon, it is critical to meet with a zealous Syracuse surgical malpractice attorney to discuss whether you may be able to recoup damages for your harm or the harm of your loved one.

Factual Background

It is alleged that the plaintiff injured her back in a workplace accident in February 2010. She was subsequently referred to the defendant surgeon after epidural steroid injections failed to alleviate her symptoms. An MRI in June 2010 revealed compression of the lumbar spine, and the defendant recommended surgery. Approximately one month later, the defendant performed a discectomy and decompression surgery on the plaintiff. Following the surgery, the plaintiff reported decreased strength in her right leg. An MRI was performed, and the results indicated an impingement on a nerve. The plaintiff was discharged and had three follow-up appointments with the defendant.

Reportedly, in September 2010, the plaintiff was advised she would have to undergo additional surgery if her symptoms did not improve. The plaintiff continued to treat with the defendant for a few additional months and then sought treatment from a second spinal surgeon. The second surgeon recommended another discectomy or fusion surgery. The plaintiff underwent a discectomy, which only partially improved her symptoms. She subsequently filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant, arguing in part that the defendant proximately caused the plaintiff’s injuries by not recommending surgery when he evaluated her in August 2010. The jury found in favor of the plaintiff, after which the defendant filed a motion to set aside the verdict. The court granted the motion and plaintiff appealed.

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In many cases in which a person is injured by inadequate medical care there will be more than one entity or care provider liable for his or her harm. For example, hospitals can be held accountable for harm caused by a resident due to an improperly performed procedure. Recently, the appellate division of the Supreme Court of New York analyzed when a hospital may be deemed liable for the negligent care provided by a surgical resident. If you suffered harm due to the negligence of a hospital or any other care provider, it is essential to consult an experienced Syracuse hospital malpractice attorney regarding what you must prove to hold the hospital liable for your injuries.

Factual Background

It is alleged that the plaintiff underwent an attempted lumbar fusion surgery at the defendant hospital. The vascular part of the surgery was performed by the defendant surgeon, who was assisted by a resident. Early on in the procedure, the defendant surgeon encountered problems with the plaintiff’s iliac veins, which began profusely bleeding. The defendant surgeon attempted to repair the veins, which lead to increased tearing and blood loss. The plaintiff was then hospitalized for several months while he recovered. He then filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendants. The defendants filed a motion for summary judgment. The trial court granted the motion, after which the plaintiff appealed.

A Hospital’s Liability for a Resident’s Negligence

On appeal, the court held, in part, that the hospital met its burden of proof by showing that the resident it agreed to hold harmless and defend did not exercise any independent judgment during the surgery. The court noted that, under New York law, a resident who aids a doctor during a medical procedure cannot be held liable for medical malpractice if the resident did not exercise any independent medical judgment, unless the doctor’s directions so greatly deviated from the standard of care the resident was obligated to intervene. Continue reading

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In most New York medical malpractice cases, the plaintiff will request a trial by a jury of his or her peers. Thus, if the case proceeds to trial, the jury will determine issues of fact and credibility, and render a verdict based on its assessment. Although jury trials are an essential part of our country’s civil litigation process, in some instances a jury issues a verdict that is against the weight of the evidence. In such cases, there are procedures in place that allow parties to seek recourse for verdicts they deem unfounded. A New York appellate court recently discussed the basis for setting aside the verdict in a surgical malpractice case. If you were injured by surgical malpractice it is important to engage an assertive Syracuse surgical malpractice attorney who will aggressively advocate on your behalf throughout each stage of your case.

Factual Background of the Case

Allegedly, the decedent was admitted to the defendant medical center to undergo a hip replacement. Following the surgery, she developed gastrointestinal bleeding. She subsequently died due to cardiac and respiratory arrest as a result of the bleeding. The plaintiff, the executor of the decedent’s estate, filed a surgical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant surgeon. The plaintiff also asserted a vicarious liability claim against the defendant medical center, alleging it was liable for the actions of the defendant surgeon. Following a trial, the jury found in favor of the defendant. The plaintiff filed a motion to set aside the verdict, arguing that it was against the weight of the evidence. The court denied the plaintiff’s motion, after which he appealed.

Setting Aside a Jury Verdict as Against the Weight of the Evidence

Under New York law, a court may not disregard a jury’s verdict as against the weight of the evidence, unless the evidence is so heavily in favor of the party asking the verdict to be set aside that the verdict could not have been reached by a fair interpretation of the evidence. Here, the court noted that in a medical malpractice case, the plaintiff has the burden of proving that it is more likely than not that the defendant deviated from the accepted standard of care, and that the deviation proximately caused the plaintiff’s alleged harm. Further, the court stated that hospitals and medical centers can be held vicariously liable for the negligence of their employees. Continue reading

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In most surgical malpractice cases, the plaintiff will elect to have a jury decide whether the defendant doctor should be held liable for the plaintiff’s harm. Juries do not always assess liability accurately, however, and in some cases, a jury will issue a verdict that is in opposition to the clear evidence of the case. If the jury’s verdict is against the weight of the evidence, the court may set it aside, as illustrated in a recent New York surgical malpractice case in which the jury found the defendant was not liable despite substantial evidence that the defendant did not meet the standard of care. If you were harmed by surgical malpractice it is prudent to meet with a proficient Syracuse surgical malpractice lawyer to discuss your case and what damages you may be able to recover.

Factual and Procedural Background

It is alleged that the plaintiff underwent a surgical procedure that was performed by the defendant. During the surgery, the defendant failed to appropriately inspect the plaintiff’s bowel and therefore failed to observe that the plaintiff suffered a perforation in her bowel. The plaintiff subsequently developed peritonitis, fell into a coma, and suffered gastrointestinal, respiratory, and organ failure. She subsequently filed a malpractice lawsuit against the defendant. Following a trial, a jury issued a verdict in favor of the defendant, finding in part that the defendant did not deviate from the applicable standard of care. The plaintiff filed a motion to set aside the verdict, arguing that it was against the weight of the evidence.

Setting Aside a Verdict That is Against the Weight of the Evidence

Under New York law, it is well established that when a verdict is against the weight of the evidence it will be set aside. A verdict will be found to be against the weight of the evidence when the evidence introduced at trial weighed so heavily in favor of the party moving to set aside the verdict, that the jury could not have reached the verdict based upon a fair interpretation of the evidence.

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