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Court Discusses Expert Qualifications in a Medical Malpractice Case in New York

In medical malpractice cases in the state of New York, the plaintiff will typically need to produce an expert report to demonstrate that the defendant violated the standard of care. While generally, the expert will be a person that practices in the same specialty as the defendant, a practitioner that specializes in a different area of medicine than the defendant may be qualified to opine as an expert in certain circumstances. This was discussed in a recent New York case in which the court reversed the dismissal of a plaintiff’s primary care malpractice case. If you were injured by incompetent care provided by a doctor in a primary care practice, it is critical to contact a skillful Syracuse primary care malpractice attorney to discuss what damages you may be able to recover.

History of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff visited the defendant primary care physician with complaints of neck pain,  scalp sensitivity, headaches, and other complaints. The defendant diagnosed the plaintiff with cervicalgia. Approximately a week later, the plaintiff’s daughter called the defendant and advised him that the plaintiff was suffering from vision loss. The defendant then advised that the plaintiff visit a specialist. The plaintiff was subsequently diagnosed with temporal arteritis and suffered irreversible blindness as a result.

Allegedly, the plaintiff then filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, asking the court to dismiss the plaintiff’s claims. The defendant argued, in part, that the plaintiff’s expert report lacked probative value because it was provided by a doctor that practiced in general surgery rather than internal medicine. The court granted the defendant’s motion, and plaintiff appealed.

Expert Qualifications in a Medical Malpractice Case

On appeal, the court noted that while the defendant met its burden of proof by establishing, prima facie, he did not depart from the accepted practice of medicine or that any departure did not cause the plaintiff’s harm. In turn, however, the plaintiff raised a triable issue of fact by submitting an expert affirmation that stated that the defendant failed to examine the plaintiff properly or to appropriately assess the plaintiff’s symptoms.

The court was not persuaded by the defendant’s argument that because the plaintiff’s expert practiced in general surgery rather than internal medicine, his report lacked probative value. Specifically, the court explained that an expert does not have to practice in a particular field to testify regarding the standard of care in that field. Instead, the expert must demonstrate he or she possesses the skills, training, experience, and knowledge needed to offer a reliable report. In the subject case, the report sufficiently demonstrated the expert’s qualifications. Thus, the court reversed the trial court ruling.

Speak with a Dedicated Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you were injured by incompetent medical care in a primary care practice, it is important to speak to a Syracuse primary care malpractice attorney as soon as possible to discuss what evidence you must produce to recover damages in a civil lawsuit. The dedicated attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP Personal Injury Lawyers are well-versed in what it takes to prove liability in a medical malpractice case, and we will advocate aggressively on your behalf. We can be reached through our online form or at 315-479-9000 to schedule a meeting.

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