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.