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New York Court Discusses Vicarious Liability in Gynecologic Malpractice Case

It is not uncommon for a physician that treats a patient to refer the patient to a specialist for the diagnosis or treatment of certain conditions. When multiple providers treat a person for a single issue, and the care provided is inadequate, it can be challenging to assess which care provider is ultimately responsible for the person’s harm. In a recent gynecologic malpractice case, a New York appellate court discussed the duties imposed on a care provider with regards to treatment by a specialist to whom the provider transfers a patient’s care. If you suffered harm due to negligent care rendered by a gynecologist, it is wise to speak with a seasoned Syracuse gynecologic malpractice attorney regarding what compensation you may be able to pursue.

Facts Regarding the Plaintiff’s Treatment

Allegedly, the plaintiff visited the defendant gynecologist for a routine examination. During the examination, the defendant gynecologist felt a palpable mass that was tender to the touch in the plaintiff’s right breast. As such, the defendant gynecologist referred the plaintiff to the defendant breast surgeon for further examination. Upon examination, the defendant breast surgeon was unable to locate a palpable mass, which he reported to the defendant gynecologist. The mass in the plaintiff’s right breast was ultimately determined to be breast cancer. The plaintiff subsequently sued the defendants for malpractice for delaying her cancer diagnosis. The defendant gynecologist filed a motion for summary judgment, which the court granted. The plaintiff then appealed.

Liability for Negligence When a Patient is Referred to Another Provider

Under New York law, it is axiomatic that a defendant in a medical malpractice case must prove that he or she did not deviate from the applicable standard of care or that any deviation did not cause the plaintiff’s alleged harm, in order to obtain a dismissal of the plaintiff’s claims. While a defendant in a medical malpractice case cannot be held vicariously liable for the malpractice of a care provider to whom the defendant refers a patient, the defendant can be held liable for his or her own negligent conduct that causes a patient harm.

In the subject case, the court noted that the defendant gynecologist established that she followed the accepted standard of care by referring the plaintiff to the defendant breast surgeon. The court found, however, that the plaintiff raised a triable issue of fact with regards to whether the defendant gynecologist nonetheless deviated from the standard of care, causing the plaintiff harm. Specifically, the court stated that there was a disputed issue of fact as to whether the defendant gynecologist departed from the standard of care by failing to advise the defendant breast surgeon regarding the presence of the mass in the plaintiff’s right breast, and whether the failure to do so substantially contributed to the plaintiff’s harm. Thus, the court reversed the trial court ruling.

Speak with a Trusted Gynecologic Malpractice Attorney

If you sustained damages due to negligent care provided by a gynecologist, it is in your best interest to speak with a Syracuse gynecologic malpractice attorney regarding what redress may be available for your harm. The skillful attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP Personal Injury Lawyers will craft compelling arguments in your favor to assist you in pursuing any compensation you may be owed. We can be reached at 315-479-9000 or via our online form to schedule a conference.

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