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Articles Posted in Surgical Malpractice

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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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Any time a person needs to undergo a surgical procedure, the doctor performing the procedure is required to obtain the person’s informed consent. In other words, the doctor must explain to the person the risks, benefits, and potential outcomes of the surgery, and obtain consent from the person to proceed with the procedure. Even if a doctor obtains informed consent prior to performing a procedure, if the doctor exceeds the scope of the consent it may constitute surgical malpractice, as discussed in a recent case ruled on by a New York court of appeals. If your surgeon did not obtain your valid consent prior to your surgery and you suffered harm as a result you should speak with a trusted Syracuse surgical malpractice attorney who can assist you in seeking any compensation you may be owed.

Factual Background of the Surgical Procedure

Reportedly, the defendant doctor performed an exploratory laparoscopic surgical procedure on the plaintiff at the defendant hospital. Prior to undergoing the procedure, the surgeon obtained consent from the plaintiff to remove her fallopian tubes in the event a malignancy was discovered during the surgery. The plaintiff underwent the procedure, during which her fallopian tubes were removed despite the fact that no malignancy was found.

It is reported that the plaintiff then filed a surgical malpractice claim against the defendants. The defendants filed motions to dismiss the plaintiff’s claims for failure to serve the complaint in a timely manner and for failure to state a meritorious claim. The trial court denied the defendants’ motions, and the defendants appealed.
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In surgical malpractice cases, there is a shifting burden from the defendant to the plaintiff to provide competent evidence to prove whether there is sufficient evidence to show that the defendant deviated from the accepted standard of care. In most cases, each party will produce an expert affidavit supporting his or her position. A New York appellate court recently discussed what could constitute sufficient evidence to rebut a defendant’s prima facie showing that he did not commit surgical malpractice, in a case in which the defendant sought a dismissal via summary judgment. If you were injured due to a surgical error, you should retain a capable Syracuse surgical malpractice attorney to assist you in your pursuit of compensation from your negligent care providers.

Facts Regarding the Plaintiff’s Surgery

Allegedly, the plaintiff underwent surgery to extract a stone from his left ureter. The surgery was performed by the defendant and was completed without incident. Approximately one day later, however, the plaintiff returned to the hospital with complaints of pain in his abdomen and an inability to urinate. He underwent a CT scan which revealed a perforation in his bladder. He then underwent a second surgery to repair the perforation. The plaintiff subsequently sued the defendant in a medical malpractice lawsuit. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, to which the plaintiff responded by filing an unsworn expert affidavit. The court subsequently denied the defendant’s motion, after which he appealed.

Elements of Proof in a Medical Malpractice Action

The elements of proof in a medical malpractice action are a deviation from the accepted standard of care, and evidence the deviation proximately caused the plaintiff’s harm. A defendant seeking the dismissal of medical malpractice claims via summary judgment must establish by prima facie evidence that he or she did not depart from the standard of care, or that the departure did not harm the plaintiff. If the defendant makes a sufficient prima facie showing, the burden then shifts to the plaintiff to show a triable issue of material fact. Further, a court should not grant summary judgment where the parties produce conflicting opinions from medical experts.
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