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New York Court Discusses a Hospital’s Liability for a Resident’s Acts

In many cases in which a person is injured by inadequate medical care there will be more than one entity or care provider liable for his or her harm. For example, hospitals can be held accountable for harm caused by a resident due to an improperly performed procedure. Recently, the appellate division of the Supreme Court of New York analyzed when a hospital may be deemed liable for the negligent care provided by a surgical resident. If you suffered harm due to the negligence of a hospital or any other care provider, it is essential to consult an experienced Syracuse hospital malpractice attorney regarding what you must prove to hold the hospital liable for your injuries.

Factual Background

It is alleged that the plaintiff underwent an attempted lumbar fusion surgery at the defendant hospital. The vascular part of the surgery was performed by the defendant surgeon, who was assisted by a resident. Early on in the procedure, the defendant surgeon encountered problems with the plaintiff’s iliac veins, which began profusely bleeding. The defendant surgeon attempted to repair the veins, which lead to increased tearing and blood loss. The plaintiff was then hospitalized for several months while he recovered. He then filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendants. The defendants filed a motion for summary judgment. The trial court granted the motion, after which the plaintiff appealed.

A Hospital’s Liability for a Resident’s Negligence

On appeal, the court held, in part, that the hospital met its burden of proof by showing that the resident it agreed to hold harmless and defend did not exercise any independent judgment during the surgery. The court noted that, under New York law, a resident who aids a doctor during a medical procedure cannot be held liable for medical malpractice if the resident did not exercise any independent medical judgment, unless the doctor’s directions so greatly deviated from the standard of care the resident was obligated to intervene.

In the subject case, it was undisputed that the plaintiff was the defendant surgeon’s patient, and that the defendant surgeon directly oversaw the resident’s participation in the surgery. Specifically, the defendant surgeon guided the resident as to where to place and hold retractors. Thus, the court found that the defendant hospital met its burden of proving that the resident did not exercise independent medical judgment and was therefore entitled to judgment in its favor as a matter of law. Although the plaintiff argued that the defendant hospital should also be held liable because the resident was not qualified to take part in a surgical procedure, the court rejected this argument, on the grounds that it was improperly raised as a new theory of liability in response to the defendant hospital’s motion. As such, the court affirmed the trial court ruling.

Consult a Trusted Hospital Malpractice Attorney Regarding Your Injuries

Medical malpractice claims are not limited to doctors and nurses but can be pursued against hospitals as well. If you suffered harm due to negligent care rendered in a hospital you should consult a trusted Syracuse hospital malpractice attorney regarding your injuries and what compensation you may be able to recover. The knowledgeable hospital malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers will zealously pursue any damages you may be owed from any person or entity that caused you harm. You can contact us through our online form or at 833-200-2000 to schedule a consultation regarding your case.


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