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New York Court Discusses the Standard of Care in Medical Malpractice Cases

Many medical procedures carry some degree of risk, but the benefits often outweigh the potential for harm. In some instances, though, complications arise due to errors during a surgical procedure that fall outside of the known risks, and in such cases, they often constitute grounds for pursuing medical malpractice claims. In a recent New York ruling issued in a medical malpractice case, the court explained what evidence is necessary to demonstrate a genuine factual dispute as to whether the defendant deviated from the standard of care. If you were injured during a negligently performed procedure, it is wise to confer with a Syracuse medical malpractice attorney about your rights.

Factual and Procedural Background

Reportedly, the plaintiffs alleged that the defendants inadvertently perforated the decedent’s artery during a peripheral arterial procedure, which subsequently resulted in the decedent experiencing a cardiac arrest, seizure, and stroke. As such, the plaintiffs filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendants. While the defendants’ expert acknowledged that they had inadvertently passed a wire through the decedent’s renal artery, puncturing the kidney, the parties’ experts disagreed on whether this perforation of the renal artery constituted a departure from the standard of medical care. The defendants moved for summary judgment, and the trial court granted their motion. The plaintiff then appealed.

Demonstrating a Departure from the Standard of Care in Medical Malpractice Cases

The court reversed the trial court’s ruling on appeal. In doing so, it explained that in a medical malpractice case, the burden falls on the plaintiff to demonstrate that the defendant deviated from accepted medical practice and that this deviation proximately caused the plaintiff’s injury.

Thus, to succeed on a motion for summary judgment, a defendant must establish either the absence of a departure from good and accepted medical practice or that any such departure was not the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. The court emphasized a qualified expert opinion is critical in establishing whether a plaintiff’s injuries were caused by a deviation from relevant industry standards.

Here, the trial court found that the defendants had met their prima facie burden for summary judgment. Their expert’s opinion indicated that the perforation was a known and accepted risk of the procedure, which did not signify negligence on the part of the defendants. The plaintiffs’ expert disputed this assertion, however, arguing that perforation of the renal artery should not have occurred during the procedure. This dispute created a genuine issue of fact regarding whether the defendants met the standard of care. As neither party challenged the qualifications of the experts, the issue remained unresolved. Thus, the court found that the trial court erred in dismissing the plaintiff’s medical malpractice claims.

Speak to a Skilled Syracuse Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Improperly performed procedures can cause grave harm, and people injured by careless doctors can often recover compensation via medical malpractice claims. If you sustained losses due to a negligent doctor, it is prudent to speak to a lawyer. The trusted Syracuse medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury can inform you of your rights and aid you in seeking any damages you may be owed. You can contact us by calling 833-200-2000 or using our online form to set up a conference.

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