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New York Court Examines Discovery in Medical Malpractice Cases

Surgical procedures can offer relief for many chronic and acute conditions. If a doctor does not exercise due care when performing a surgery, though, they may inadvertently cause a patient harm, and may be liable for medical malpractice. In some cases, the hospital or healthcare system that employs the doctor may be responsible as well. As discussed in a recent New York opinion delivered in a medical malpractice case, plaintiffs are generally permitted to pursue discovery of a  hospital system’s procedures for vetting doctors that harm patients, as it may be critical to their claims. If you were harmed by a reckless physician, it is wise to meet with a Syracuse medical malpractice lawyer to discuss your rights.

Factual and Procedural Background

It is reported that the plaintiff filed a medical malpractice action alleging that the defendant surgeon negligently performed a laparoscopic surgery that resulted in perforation of the decedent’s bowel. The surgery occurred at a hospital that was part of the healthcare network of the defendant’s healthcare system. The plaintiff argued that the defendant’s healthcare system failed to establish reasonable procedures for reviewing the defendant’s surgeon’s qualifications before granting him privileges to perform surgeries.

Allegedly, The plaintiff and the decedent, before her passing, moved to compel Kaleida Health to produce a representative knowledgeable about prior incidents involving injuries to patients from surgeries performed by the defendant surgeon. Defendants cross-moved for a protective order. The court granted the plaintiff’s motion and the defendants appealed.

Grounds for Compelling Discovery Responses

On appeal, the court noted that the order issued by the trial court directed the defendant’s healthcare system to produce a representative with knowledge of prior incidents or complaints related to injuries from procedures performed by the defendant, subject to certain limitations.

On appeal, the defendants, argued that the court should have imposed additional restrictions on the deposition. The court rejected the defendant’s arguments, however, and affirmed the trial court ruling.

In doing so, the court emphasized the broad scope of discovery in civil actions, including medical malpractice cases. While certain statutes protect the confidentiality of hospital review processes, information about prior negligence by a doctor, obtained by the hospital outside of such processes, is discoverable.

Further, the court noted that the trial courts are granted broad discretion with regard to the supervision of discovery, and appellate intervention is warranted only for clear abuses of discretion. In this case, the court found no abuse of discretion in denying defendants’ request for additional restrictions on the deposition. Therefore, the court affirmed the trial court’s order.

Talk to a Knowledgeable Syracuse Medical Malpractice Attorney

While there are risks associated with most surgeries, sometimes harm occurs because a doctor negligently performed the procedure. If you were injured due to a physician’s carelessness, it is wise to talk to an attorney about what damages you may be able to pursue in a medical malpractice case. The knowledgeable Syracuse medical malpractice attorneys ofDeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers have ample experience handling claims against physicians, and if you hire us, we will fight to help you pursue the results you deserve.  You can contact us at 833-200-2000 or via the form online to arrange a conference.

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