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Court Explains Evidence Needed to Demonstrate Medical Malpractice in New York

Back conditions are complicated, and doctors require extensive training and experience before they can properly manage them. If a doctor fails to address symptoms that indicate potentially critical back issues, it can result in significant damages, including paralysis. Even if it seems clear that a patient’s losses are caused by negligence, however, to recover damages in a medical malpractice case, a plaintiff must typically retain a medical expert who sets forth precisely how the defendant doctor harmed the plaintiff. The failure to do so can result in the dismissal of the case, as demonstrated in a recent New York ruling. If you were injured by an incompetent orthopedic surgeon, it is smart to meet with a Syracuse medical malpractice lawyer to determine your options.

The Plaintiff’s Harm

It is reported that the plaintiff suffered from scoliosis and underwent numerous spinal surgeries throughout her life. She routinely treated with the defendant orthopedic surgeon for management of her back pain. In October 2016, her back pain worsened, and she underwent x-rays which revealed that one of the rods that had previously been surgically installed in her back had broken. She visited the defendant, who determined that her condition was not emergent and did not require any management at that time because she was neurologically stable.

Allegedly, the plaintiff visited the defendant on one additional occasion before she collapsed and became paraplegic. She filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant, alleging his negligence led to her paralysis. After discovery, he moved to dismiss the plaintiff’s complaint. The trial court denied his motion, and he appealed.

Evidence Needed to Demonstrate Medical Malpractice

On appeal, the appellate court reversed the trial court ruling. The court noted that the defendant met its initial burden of proof by establishing that any purported departures from good and accepted practice of medicine did not proximately cause the plaintiff’s injuries. Specifically, he set forth an expert report that stated the defendant’s alleged breach of the standard did not contribute to or cause the plaintiff’s harm.

The court found that the defendant’s expert affidavit was specific, detailed, and factual in nature and addressed every claim of negligence that was set forth in the plaintiff’s bill of particulars. In response, however, the plaintiff’s expert affidavit was vague and conclusory and merely stated that the defendant deviated from the standard of care in multiple ways without providing specifics. Thus, the plaintiff failed to raise a triable issue of fact with regard to proximate cause. As such, the appellate court reversed the trial court ruling.

Speak to an Experienced Syracuse Medical Malpractice Attorney

Back pain can be debilitating, and tragically, in many instances, doctors that are supposed to help patients with back conditions harm them instead. If you were injured by the negligence of a spinal surgeon, it is important to speak to an attorney about your potential claims as soon as possible.  The experienced Syracuse attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers are skilled at recovering damages for orthopedic malpractice, and if you engage our services, we will work diligently to help you strive for a just outcome. You can reach us via our online form or at 833-200-2000 to set up a meeting.


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