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New York Court Discusses Standards for Evaluating the Sufficiency of a Medical Malpractice Expert Report

In many cases, a medical malpractice claim is only a strong as the plaintiff’s expert report. If a plaintiff’s expert cannot adequately prove that a doctor breached the standard of care, it can result in a dismissal of the plaintiff’s claim, and, therefore, results in a loss of the plaintiff’s right to recover damages.

The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New recently discussed the standards for evaluating the sufficiency of a plaintiff’s expert report, in a case in which the court found the plaintiff’s expert failed to show a breach of the standard of care and dismissed the plaintiff’s case. If you sustained damages due to a doctor’s failure to treat you in an appropriate manner, it is important to retain a skillful Syracuse medical malpractice attorney who will assist you in obtaining an expert that can help you show your doctor should be liable for your harm.

Facts Regarding the Plaintiff’s Treatment

Reportedly, the plaintiff was treated by the defendant, an ophthalmologist, due to pain in his right eye, trouble focusing, and a drooped eyelid. The defendant examined the plaintiff and assessed the plaintiff as suffering from glaucoma. He advised the plaintiff to return in six months, or sooner if his symptoms worsened. Six months after his treatment with the defendant, the plaintiff was diagnosed with a meningioma, a benign brain tumor, and underwent surgery. The plaintiff subsequently filed a medical malpractice claim against the defendant for failing to properly diagnose the plaintiff or recommend further testing. Following the completion of discovery, the defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, which the court granted. Plaintiff appealed.

Sufficiency of a Report Outside of the Expert’s Area of Specialization  

On appeal, the court noted that the defendant’s submitted a thorough expert report that established the defendant’s prima facie right to judgment in his favor. Specifically, the defendant’s expert report stated that the defendant did not deviate from the standard of care and that the plaintiff’s outcome would not have changed even if the tumor was discovered during his examination with the defendant. The court stated, however, that the plaintiff’s expert reported failed to show an issue of fact existed as to whether the defendant’s treatment caused the plaintiff harm. The court noted that while an expert does not have to specialize in a field to testify regarding standard practices in that field, he or she should nonetheless have the skill, training, and experience to offer a reliable opinion. Thus, when an expert offers an opinion outside of his area of specialty, he or she must lay a foundation to support the reliability of his or her opinion.

In the subject case, the plaintiff’s expert was an ophthalmologist, who sufficiently raised an issue of fact as to whether the defendant breached the standard of care. The court held, however, that the plaintiff’s expert’s report was insufficient to establish that the plaintiff’s tumor could have been treated with radiation rather than surgery if it was discovered earlier. Specifically, the expert did not demonstrate that he had training in the treatment of meningioma or familiarized himself with the appropriate standard of care. Therefore, the court found his report lacked probative value and failed to raise an issue of fact. As such, the court affirmed the trial court ruling.

Meet with a Capable Syracuse Medical Malpractice Attorney to Discuss Your Case

If you were injured due to your doctor’s failure to diagnose you in a timely manner, you should retain a trusted Syracuse medical malpractice attorney to assist you in your pursuit of damages. At DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, our experienced medical malpractice attorneys will aggressively advocate on your behalf to help you recover any compensation you may be owed. You can contact us at 315-479-9000 or through our form online to schedule a free and confidential consultation.

More Blog Posts:

New York Court Overturns Dismissal of Medical Malpractice Case Due to Disputed Facts, Syracuse Medical Malpractice and Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, January 29, 2019

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