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Court Explains Proving Causation in New York Medical Malpractice Cases

Most treatments carry some degree of risk, and doctors will typically advise patients of the benefits and detriments of a chosen course of care prior to administering it. The dangers associated with treatment can be exacerbated by medical mistakes as well, and seemingly harmless procedures can result in fatal injuries. People who lose loved ones due to medical errors can pursue claims against the providers that cause their harm, but proving causation can be challenging. Recently, a New York court discussed the causation element of medical malpractice cases in a matter in which it ruled that the disputed issues must be presented to the jury. If you lost a loved one due to negligent medical care, it is smart to consult a Syracuse medical malpractice lawyer to discuss what evidence you must produce to establish liability.

The Plaintiff’s Harm

It is alleged that the plaintiff’s decedent underwent a liver biopsy that was performed by the defendant. The decedent subsequently died as a result of internal bleeding, which the plaintiff attributed to a laceration of the abdominal wall caused by the negligence of the defendant. Thus, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendant, setting forth claims of medical negligence and wrongful death. After discovery was closed, the defendant moved for summary judgment. The court denied the motion, and the defendant appealed.

Proving Causation in Medical Malpractice Cases

On appeal, the court explained that the only point of contention is whether the defendant was responsible for the lacerations that caused the plaintiff’s death. The court noted that the parties’ experts disagree on the distance between the biopsied section of the liver and the lacerations on the stomach and whether the lacerations were consistent with an injury from a biopsy needle.

Further, the experts had differing opinions as to the significance of the fact that the capsule surrounding the liver was intact, that it had a structural defect and a long-standing hematoma but no evidence of recent injury or bleeding, and that only liver tissue was detected in the biopsy samples. In sum, the court found that it could not determine which expert’s opinions were proper as a matter of law. The court clarified that the fact that the autopsy report indicated complications of a liver biopsy was the cause of death was not dispositive. Based on the foregoing, the court found that the trial court’s denial of the motion for summary judgment was proper.

Meet with a Trusted Syracuse Medical Malpractice Attorney

Biopsies are relatively low-risk procedures, but with any treatment, if they are performed improperly, they can lead to significant injuries. If you sustained losses due to an improperly performed procedure, you might be owed compensation, and you should meet with a medical malpractice lawyer to discuss your possible claims. The trusted attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers can advise you of your rights and help you to seek the best legal result available under the facts of your case. You can reach us through our online form or by calling us at 833-200-2000 to set up a meeting.


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