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Court Discusses Establishing a Podiatrist’s Liability for Medical Malpractice Under New York Law

Under New York law, podiatrists, like all medical professionals, have an obligation to treat their patients in a manner that complies with the accepted and good practice of medicine. If they fail to negligently perform their duties, thereby causing their patients harm, they may be liable for medical malpractice. Recently, a New York court explained what a plaintiff must prove to recover damages in a medical malpractice case against a podiatrist in a matter in which the defendant caused fatal harm. If you or a loved one sustained injuries because of the carelessness of a podiatrist, you should meet with a Syracuse medical malpractice lawyer to assess whether you may be owed damages.

The Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the decedent, who was 81 years old and suffered from numerous chronic health concerns, visited the defendant podiatrist for treatment of a burn on the top of his right foot. The defendant examined the decedent’s foot and noted that while he had areas of raw skin and blisters, there were no signs of cellulitis or infection. The defendant diagnosed the decedent with a second-degree burn, cleaned and dressed his wound, and instructed him on wound care.

Reportedly, the decedent had a follow-up visit with the defendant six and then eleven days later, during which the defendant again noted no signs of infection or cellulitis. A month and a half later, the decedent was admitted to the hospital, where he underwent an amputation of his right foot. Two months later, he died due to cardiac arrest. The plaintiff instituted medical malpractice and wrongful death claims against the defendant, who moved for summary judgment following discovery. The court denied the defendant’s motion, and she appealed.

Establishing a Podiatrist’s Liability for Medical Malpractice Under New York Law

On appeal, the trial court ruling was reversed. The court explained that the required elements of proof in a medical malpractice case are a departure from the standards of practice that are accepted in the community and proof that said departure proximately caused damages or injuries.

As such, a defendant seeking summary judgment must show, prima facie, that there was no departure from the accepted and good practice of medicine or that their acts did not proximately cause the plaintiff’s harm. If the defendant meets this burden, the plaintiff must demonstrate that triable issue of fact exists to survive summary judgment.

In the subject case, the court found that the defendant adequately met her burden of proof by offering an affirmation from a podiatrist opining that her care complied with the applicable standard. In response, however, the plaintiff failed to demonstrate that a factual dispute remained. Thus, the court reversed the trial court ruling.

Speak to a Dedicated Syracuse Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Podiatry is often considered a low-risk area of medicine, but podiatrists can make medical errors that cause their patients to suffer devastating harm. If you were injured by a careless podiatrist, you have the right to seek compensation, and you should speak to an attorney as soon as possible. The dedicated Syracuse medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers are proficient at holding reckless doctors accountable for the harm they cause, and if you hire us, we will advocate zealously on your behalf. You can reach us through our form online or by calling us at 315-479-9000 to set up a conference.

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