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New York Court Discusses Medical Malpractice Arising out of an Involuntary Commitment

Under New York law, a person may be confined to a mental health institution against his or her will, for both the safety of the person and of other people the person may encounter. Sufficient grounds must exist to hold a person against his or her will, however, and if a hospital fails to abide by the standard of care in institutionalizing a patient, the hospital can be held liable for malpractice. This was demonstrated in a recent case filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, in which the plaintiff alleged numerous claims against the defendant hospital following his involuntary commitment, including medical malpractice claims. If you sustained damages due to a hospital’s failure to comply with the appropriate standard of care in rendering treatment, it is prudent to meet with a diligent Syracuse hospital malpractice attorney to discuss what you must do to recover damages.

Facts Regarding the Plaintiff’s Involuntary Commitment

It is reported that the plaintiff, who suffers from anxiety and diabetes, was receiving supportive services from a non-profit organization, including rental assistance and subsidies. He was mistreated on several occasions, after which he complained. Subsequently, an employee of the organization falsely accused the plaintiff of making threats of violence against him. As such, the organization called the police and asked them to transport the plaintiff to the hospital.

Allegedly, the police then took the plaintiff to the hospital, where he was involuntarily committed. He was asked if he intended to harm himself, to which he replied no. Nonetheless, he was told he would not be released unless he took certain pills. He took the pills but did not receive any other treatment. He was released the following day. He subsequently filed a lawsuit against the non-profit organization and the hospital, alleging that the hospital committed malpractice by admitting him against his will and failing to offer him proper treatment during his admission. The hospital moved to dismiss the plaintiff’s medical malpractice claims pursuant to the applicable rules of civil procedure.

Medical Malpractice in an Involuntary Commitment Case

On review, the court found that the plaintiff adequately alleged a deviation from the standard of care, and therefore denied the hospital’s motion. Specifically, the court noted that the plaintiff alleged that the hospital was required to conduct an independent investigation into the plaintiff’s mental health status before committing the plaintiff against his will and that it breached the standard of care by failing to do so without any justification. The court agreed, noting that under New York law, allegations that the defendant made treatment decisions without a plaintiff’s consent that could harm the plaintiff was sufficient to sustain a medical malpractice claim. As such, the court permitted the plaintiff to proceed with his medical malpractice claims against the hospital.

Speak with a Trusted Malpractice Attorney

If you suffered harm due to negligent treatment in a hospital, it is in your best interest to speak with a trusted Syracuse hospital malpractice attorney regarding what evidence you must produce to recover damages. The dedicated attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP Personal Injury Lawyers will work tirelessly to help you strive for the best result available under the facts of your case. We can be reached at 315-479-9000 or through the form online to set up a meeting.

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