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New York Court Differentiates Ordinary Negligence and Medical Malpractice Claims

In any civil lawsuit, it is essential for the plaintiff to assert the proper claims against the defendant, and the failure to do so can result in the dismissal of a case. For example, while negligence and medical malpractice claims bear many similarities, there are key distinctions between the two causes of action, and it is important for anyone seeking damages from a medical provider to ensure they are asserting the correct claim. This was evidenced in a recent case decided by a New York appellate court, in which the court reviewed the dismissal of the plaintiff’s negligence claim against a hospital due to the fact that her complaint sounded in medical malpractice.  If you were harmed by negligent care rendered in a hospital, it is critical to retain a seasoned Syracuse hospital malpractice attorney to assist you in pursuing the appropriate claims for your harm.

Facts and Procedural Background of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff donated blood at the defendant hospital’s blood donation center. After making her donation, she lost consciousness and fell and sustained injuries. She then filed a lawsuit against the defendant, asserting a negligence claim. Specifically, she alleged the defendant was negligent for failing to follow protocols for diminishing reactions in blood donors, failing to screen for health problems and obtain a thorough medical history, and failing to provide a medical examination before drawing blood.

It is alleged that the defendant filed a motion to dismiss, asserting the plaintiff’s complaint set forth a medical malpractice claim, but the plaintiff failed to file the required certificate of merit. The plaintiff argued that no certificate of merit was required because the allegations in her complaint merely asserted a negligence claim, not a malpractice claim. The court denied the defendant’s motion, and the defendant appealed.

Differentiating Between Negligence and Medical Malpractice

Under New York law, medical malpractice is essentially a variety of negligence. As such, to determine whether conduct should be considered ordinary negligence or medical malpractice, the critical factor is the nature of the duty owed to the plaintiff. Specifically if the act or failure to act that caused the plaintiff’s alleged harm has to do with medical science that requires skills not possessed by an ordinary layperson, it constitutes a malpractice claim, whereas if the duty can be evaluated by the average person based on everyday experiences it is likely a negligence claim. In other words, medical malpractice claims involve an evaluation of a medical professional’s judgment and skills.

Thus, if a negligent act constitutes medical treatment or bears a significant relationship to medical treatment, it is considered malpractice. If a complaint alleges a medical practitioner failed to meet a duty owed to the plaintiff that is not related to medical care, it is a negligence claim. In the subject case, the court found that many of the plaintiff’s claims had to do with insufficient medical treatment provided to her by hospital employees. Thus, the court found that her claim sounded in medical malpractice and reversed the trial court ruling.

Meet with a Trusted Malpractice Attorney

If you were harmed by inadequate care in a hospital, it is in your best interest to meet with a trusted Syracuse hospital malpractice attorney regarding your right to seek damages from the parties that caused your harm. The proficient attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP Personal Injury Lawyers have the skills and experience needed to help you pursue a successful result. We can be reached at  315-479-9000 or through the form online to set up a meeting.

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