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Court Explains What Information is Discoverable in Medical Malpractice Cases in New York

Patients who suffer injuries due to incompetent medical care may be able to recover damages from the physicians that caused their harm. Additionally, if the losses occur in a hospital setting, the parties responsible for hiring or supervising doctors may be deemed vicariously liable for their behavior. Typically, plaintiffs must prove that a hospital knew or should have known that negligent physicians were likely to cause patients to suffer harm to prove liability, which may require evidence regarding their treatment of other parties. In a recent New York opinion issued in an emergency room malpractice case, a court discussed what information is protected from disclosure in a vicarious liability claim against a hospital. If you were hurt due to incompetent medical care, it is prudent to meet with a trusted Syracuse medical malpractice lawyer regarding your potential claims.

The History of the Case

Allegedly, the plaintiff sought treatment at the emergency department of the defendant hospital for neurological symptoms. He was examined by the defendant doctor and released. It was later revealed, however, that the plaintiff suffered a cerebrovascular accident, which the defendant doctor failed to diagnose. The plaintiff sustained substantial injuries due to the delayed diagnosis and subsequently filed a lawsuit against the defendants, alleging the doctor was negligent, and the hospital was vicariously liable for the harm caused by the doctor.

It is reported that during discovery, the plaintiff sought to depose the former CEO of the hospital, based on a letter he received from a concerned physician regarding prior complaints made to the CEO about the defendant doctor’s competence. The defendants moved to quash the subpoena for the deposition on the grounds that it sought information protected by New York law.

Information Discoverable in Medical Malpractice Cases

Upon review, the court noted that New York Education laws state that records relating to a medical or quality assurance review function or participation in a malpractice prevention program and reports required by the department of health regarding the investigation of an incident are protected from disclosure. Similarly, no one present at a meeting relating to quality assurance or medical review, or a malpractice prevention program may be compelled to testify regarding what transpired at the event.

New York Health laws further dictate that information collected pursuant to statute and any reporting requirements imposed on treatment centers must be kept confidential and will not be released or disclosed in litigation. In the subject case, the court ultimately found that the defendant failed to prove that the information sought by the plaintiff was protected from disclosure under New York law. Thus, the court denied the defendant’s motion.

Meet with a Knowledgeable Syracuse Attorney

Doctors in emergency rooms are often called upon to address critical health situations, and if they fail to properly diagnose or treat patients, they may be liable for emergency room malpractice. If you sustained damages due to the carelessness of a physician, you might be owed compensation, and you should meet with an attorney as soon as possible. At DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers, our seasoned medical malpractice attorneys can assess the circumstances surrounding your harm and help you to seek the full amount of compensation recoverable under the law. You can contact us via our online form or at 315-479-9000 to set up a meeting.

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