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New York Court Discusses Liability for the Failure to Diagnose a Patient

A missed diagnosis can cause irreparable damages, and in many instances, the harm suffered is fatal. Simply because a patient dies after being improperly diagnosed does not automatically mean their family can recover compensation, however. Rather, the survivors must prove the doctor in question committed medical malpractice, and if they cannot, their claims may be dismissed. This was illustrated in a recent New York opinion issued in a hospital malpractice case. If you sustained losses after you received an incorrect diagnosis l, you could be owed compensation, and you should meet with a Syracuse failure to diagnose malpractice lawyer to discuss your options.

The Decedent’s Harm

It is reported that the decedent, who was a minor, was taken to the emergency department of a hospital with complaints of a persistent cough with blood. Doctors at the hospital diagnosed him with bronchitis, gave him a prescription, and discharged him. Three days later, he was transported via ambulance to a second hospital due to difficulty breathing, and he was assessed as having a viral infection.

Allegedly, he was directed to finish his prescription and follow up with his primary care physician. Tragically, he died one day later. The cause of death was determined to be pulmonary embolisms.  His mother commenced a medical malpractice lawsuit against both hospitals, alleging their failure to properly diagnose the decedent caused his death. The defendants moved for summary judgment, and the trial court granted the motion. The plaintiff appealed.

Proving Liability for a Missed Diagnosis

On appeal, the court explained the well-established tenet of New York medical malpractice law, which is that a defendant seeking dismissal via summary judgment must first show that it did not depart from the accepted and good practice of medicine or that any purported departure did not cause the harm alleged.

If the defendant meets this burden, the plaintiff then has to establish that a triable issue of fact exists as to those elements for which the defendant met its prima facie burden of proof. Typically, summary judgment is not proper in a medical malpractice matter in which the parties produce conflicting expert reports. If the expert report produced by the plaintiff is speculative, conclusory, or is not supported by the record, however, it will be deemed insufficient to demonstrate that a true factual dispute exists.

In the subject case, the court found that while the defendants met their burden of proving they were entitled to judgment as a matter of law. In contrast, however, the plaintiff failed to demonstrate a triable issue of fact existed. Thus, the appellate court affirmed the trial court ruling.

Meet with a Capable Syracuse Medical Malpractice Attorney

People should be able to rely on their doctors to provide a proper diagnosis, and when doctors fail to accurately assess their patients’ symptoms, it often causes significant injuries. If you were harmed by a doctor’s failure to diagnose you, you should contact a lawyer about your potential claims. The capable attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers can advise you of your rights and assist you in seeking the best possible legal outcome available under the facts of your case. You can contact us via our form online or by calling us at  833-200-2000 to set up a conference.




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