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Court Explains Expert Qualifications in Medical Malpractice Cases in New York

Expert testimony is a key component of any medical malpractice case. Specifically, both plaintiffs and defendants must produce an affidavit from a medical expert that supports their claims or defenses relying on evidence produced from the record. While the expert does not have to practice in the same specialty as the defendant, the qualifications of a doctor that works in another field must be thoroughly explained; otherwise, it may result in a dismissal. Expert qualifications were addressed in a recent New York ruling in a case in which the court dismissed the plaintiff’s medical malpractice claims, in part, due to the deficiency of her expert. If you were harmed by the care you received in a hospital, it is prudent to confer with a Syracuse hospital malpractice lawyer to assess your options.

The Plaintiff’s Harm

It is reported that the plaintiff was admitted to the defendant hospital after she suffered a stroke. She subsequently developed left sided-paralysis and other complications. She then filed a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging its employees negligently failed to adequately monitor her status or provide her with proper care and that the delayed administration of necessary medication led to her harm. After the parties completed the discovery, the defendant moved to dismiss the plaintiff’s claims via summary judgment. The court denied the defendant’s motion, after which it appealed. On appeal, the court reversed the trial court ruling.

Expert Qualifications in Medical Malpractice Cases

The court explained that, pursuant to New York law, a defendant seeking dismissal via summary judgment must prove that the evidence, on its face, shows that there was no departure from the standard of care or that any departure did not cause the plaintiff’s harm. In turn, the plaintiff must show that a material issue of fact remains regarding one or both of the defendant’s assertions. Generally, the parties establish their positions via the use of expert testimony. If either party engages an expert that is offering an opinion outside of his or her area of specialty, a foundation must be laid that supports the reliability of the opinion offered. If no such foundation is laid, the expert’s opinion lacks probative value and will be inadequate to sustain the party’s burden with regard to a summary judgment motion.

In the subject case, the defendant offered a detailed affirmation from a neurologist that stated the defendant complied with the standard of care. The plaintiff, however, offered an affidavit from a doctor specializing in emergency medicine. The court found the report failed to show that the expert had any training in neurology or the treatment of strokes and the standard of care that applied. Thus, the trial court ruling was reversed, and the plaintiff’s claims were dismissed.

Meet with a Skilled Syracuse Attorney

People rely on hospitals to provide them with thorough and competent care, but medical negligence frequently causes hospital patients to suffer harm. If you were injured by a reckless hospital worker, it is advisable to speak with a lawyer to determine whether you may have a viable hospital malpractice claim. At DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP Personal Injury Lawyers, our skilled medical malpractice attorneys are proficient at helping injured patients seek redress for their losses, and if you hire us, we will work diligently on your behalf. You can reach us via our online form or at 315-479-9000 to set up a meeting.

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