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New York Court Discusses Proving Liability for Failure to Obtain Informed Consent

It is well established under New York law that a doctor must obtain a patient’s informed consent prior to performing a procedure. If they fail to do so and a patient subsequently suffers harm, they may be liable for medical malpractice. Recently, a New York court discussed what a plaintiff must prove to establish liability due to the failure to obtain informed consent in a case arising out of complications following an appendectomy. If you were injured following a negligently performed surgery, it is wise to contact a Syracuse medical malpractice lawyer to discuss your rights as soon as possible.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff presented to the emergency department of the defendant’s hospital with complaints of abdominal pain. He was subsequently diagnosed with appendicitis and underwent an appendectomy. He later had to undergo a second surgery. He suffered complications, after which he filed a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging that the surgeon’s failure to obtain his informed consent and negligent performance of the surgery constituted medical malpractice. The defendant moved for dismissal via summary judgment, and the court granted the motion. The defendant appealed.

Proving Liability for Failure to Obtain Informed Consent

On appeal, the appellate court affirmed the trial court ruling. First, the appellate court noted that the plaintiff’s medical expert, who was an internist, was not qualified to opine on the issue of whether the surgeon departed from the accepted standard of medical care in the applicable community when he performed the plaintiff’s surgeries. Specifically, the court stated that the plaintiff’s expert did not demonstrate any familiarity with abdominal surgery in particular or surgery in general.

Further, the plaintiff’s expert was not qualified to opine on the issue of whether the surgeon’s disclosure of the risks associated with the surgery was qualitatively inadequate. Finally, the expert’s remaining contentions were speculative and lacked evidentiary support.

With regard to the informed consent claim, the court stated that the plaintiff’s affidavit pertaining to the surgeon’s failure to explain the risks associated with the claim was insufficient to raise a triable issue of fact. Even if the court accepted assertions as true, it explained that his expert was not qualified, and an expert opinion is necessary for an informed consent claim. Thus, the court affirmed the dismissal of the plaintiff’s claims.

Meet with a Trusted Syracuse Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Doctors have an obligation to inform their patients of the risks associated with a procedure and any available alternatives, and if they do not, they may be liable for medical malpractice. If you were hurt by your doctor’s failure to obtain your informed consent, you should meet with an attorney to discuss your potential claims. The trusted Syracuse medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury possess the skills and knowledge needed to hold negligent healthcare providers accountable, and if you hire us, we will advocate zealously on your behalf. 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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