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New York Court Discusses Evidence Needed to Prove the Existence of a Doctor-Patient Relationship

It is not uncommon for expectant mothers to treat at medical practices that employ multiple providers. If the care offered at such facilities is inadequate and causes the mother or her child to suffer harm, the mother may be able to pursue malpractice claims against more than one party. Only those individuals that have a doctor-patient relationship with the mother will be deemed directly liable, however. This was illustrated in a recent ruling issued by a New York Court in a medical malpractice case. If you or your child sustained injuries because of the negligence of a doctor, you may be owed damages, and it is smart to consult a Syracuse medical malpractice attorney to discuss your potential causes of action.

The Plaintiff’s Allegations

It is reported that the plaintiff filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendants, a nurse, midwife practice, and collaborating doctor, arguing that their failure to abide by the accepted practice of medicine resulted in her child being born prematurely, which caused him to suffer brain damage and develop cerebral palsy. The defendant each moved for summary judgment; the defendant doctor argued, in part, that he did not have a treatment relationship with the plaintiff and therefore could not be held liable for medical malpractice. The trial court denied the defendant’s motions, and they appealed.

Establishing the Existence of a Doctor-Patient Relationship

The appellate court affirmed the trial court’s ruling on appeal. One of the primary issues discussed on appeal was whether the collaborating doctor had a treatment relationship with the plaintiff. The appellate court explained that a physician only owes a duty of care to their patient. Further, the duty may be limited to the medical functions the doctor undertakes, and the patient relies upon.

Doctor-patient relationships are created when professional services are offered and accepted for purposes of medical or surgical care. If no direct doctor-patient relationship exists, a relationship can be implied if the doctor gives advice to a patient, even if the advice is channeled through a third party. Typically, whether a doctor owes a duty of care to a plaintiff is a legal question that must be decided by the courts.

Conversely, though, the issue of whether a doctor offering advice to a plaintiff is adequate evidence that a doctor-patient relationship exists is within the jury’s purview. Further, doctors can be held vicariously liable for the acts of those whom they exercise control or authority over. In the subject case, the appellate court found that there was sufficient evidence of a doctor-patient relationship to present the issue to the jury. Thus, it affirmed the trial court ruling.

Speak to an Experienced Syracuse Medical Malpractice Lawyer

If you or your child sustained injuries due to the carelessness of a medical professional, you have the right to seek compensation, and you should speak to an attorney as soon as possible. The trusted Syracuse medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers are mindful of the devastation incompetent medical care can cause, and if you engage our services, we will work tirelessly to help you seek a just outcome. You can reach us through our form online or by calling us at 315-479-9000 to set up a conference.

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