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New York Court Discusses Expert Qualifications in Medical Malpractice Cases

In most medical malpractice cases, both parties will retain medical experts to testify on issues like the applicable standard of care and causation. While experts typically practice in the same field as the parties named as defendants, they do not have to work in the same specialty to be qualified to offer testimony. This was explained in a recent New  York opinion issued in a case arising out of the defendant’s mismanagement of a patient’s diabetes, which ultimately resulted in his death. If you lost a loved one due to the negligence of a primary care physician, you should speak to a Syracuse primary care malpractice attorney regarding your right to pursue damages.

The Decedent’s Harm

It is reported that the decedent was transferred from a hospital to the defendant rehabilitation facility. During his admission at the facility, he was cared for by the defendant physician. The decedent, who suffered from type II diabetes, soon began to experience significant symptoms due to his illness. The defendant physician failed to properly manage the decedent’s diabetes, however, and the decedent’s condition worsened.

Allegedly, the decedent ultimately died due to complications caused by his diabetes. The plaintiff, the decedent’s son, filed a medical malpractice case against the defendants, alleging their negligent treatment of the decedent caused his death. The defendants moved for summary judgment, arguing the plaintiff’s expert was not qualified to testify regarding the defendant physician’s management of the decedent’s diabetes. The trial court agreed and granted the motion. The plaintiff then appealed.

Expert Qualifications in Medical Malpractice Cases

The appellate court reversed the trial court ruling. The court explained that while the affirmations of the defendants’ experts were sufficient to satisfy the prima facie burden of establishing that they were entitled to summary judgment, the plaintiff’s expert affirmation, which he offered in opposition to the defendants’ motion, was adequate to raise triable issues of fact.

The court explained that, contrary to the defendants’ assertion, the plaintiff’s expert was qualified to offer testimony regarding the defendants’ management of the decedent’s diabetes. The court explained that a physician does not need to be a specialist in a specific field to offer an expert opinion if he or she nonetheless possesses the knowledge needed to make a determination on the issues presented.

If the expert demonstrates such knowledge, the issue of the expert’s qualifications to provide an opinion must be decided at trial. Here, the appellate court found that the plaintiff’s expert adequately demonstrated his qualifications. Thus, it reversed the trial court ruling.

Meet with a Trusted Syracuse Medical Malpractice Attorney

Primary care physicians are expected to manage a variety of chronic conditions, and if they fail to do so properly, it can lead to significant harm, and in some cases, death. If you lost a loved one because of the careless acts of a doctor, you should meet with a lawyer to determine your options for seeking compensation. The trusted Syracuse primary care malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers can advise you of your rights and help you to seek the maximum compensation available under the law. You can contact us via our form online or by calling us at 315-479-9000 to set up a conference.

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