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New York Court Explains Proximate Cause in Hospital Malpractice Case

There are several elements an injured party must establish to successfully prove a hospital malpractice claim. Thus, even if a person can show a hospital breached the standard of care, the breach may not be actionable if it did not result in any harm. this was illustrated in a case recently decided by a New York appellate court, in which the court dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint due to the failure to show that the departure from the standard of care resulted in the harm alleged. If you sustained an injury or illness due to hospital malpractice it is critical to engage a proficient Syracuse hospital malpractice attorney as soon as possible to help you pursue the full amount of damages you may be owed.

Facts Regarding the Plaintiff’s Treatment and Alleged Harm

Reportedly, the plaintiff presented to the defendant hospital when she was six weeks pregnant, with complaints of bleeding and severe pain. She underwent a blood test and an ultrasound to determine whether she had an intrauterine pregnancy, an ectopic pregnancy, or was suffering a miscarriage. The radiologist who interpreted the ultrasound determined that the plaintiff had a single intrauterine pregnancy. She was discharged from the hospital and directed to follow-up with her gynecologist.

It is alleged that the following day the plaintiff visited the defendant obstetrician, who ran additional bloodwork and advised the plaintiff that based on her bloodwork and the preliminary report from the radiologist that she was having a miscarriage.  That same day, the defendant hospital issued an amended radiology report in which it stated that it was not certain whether there was a gestational sac in the uterus. The amended report was not sent to the defendant obstetrician. Approximately six weeks later, the plaintiff was diagnosed with an ectopic pregnancy and underwent surgery to remove her left fallopian tube.

It is reported that the plaintiff subsequently filed a malpractice lawsuit against the defendants. The case proceeded to trial and the jury found that the defendant hospital breached the standard of care by not communicating the amended radiology report to the defendant obstetrician. The hospital subsequently moved to set aside the verdict as a matter of law, which the court granted. Plaintiff appealed.

Proximate Cause in Hospital Malpractice Cases

To establish liability in a hospital malpractice case, the plaintiff must show that the hospital departed from the standard of care and that the departure was the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. To show proximate cause, the plaintiff must set forth sufficient medical evidence that would allow a reasonable person to determine that it is more likely than not that the departure caused the harm alleged.

In the subject case, the court found that although the hospital breached the standard of care by not communicating the amended radiology report to the defendant obstetrician, the court found that the jury’s finding that the breach was the proximate cause of the harm alleged was based on speculation. Specifically, the defendant obstetrician stated that even if he was advised of the amended report, he would not have changed his care of the plaintiff, and it would not have changed his opinion that the plaintiff was suffering a miscarriage. As such, the court affirmed the trial court ruling.

Consult an Experienced Syracuse Hospital Malpractice Attorney to Discuss Your Case

If you suffered harm due to inadequate care rendered by a radiologist you should consult an experienced Syracuse hospital malpractice attorney to discuss your case and what damages you may be able to recover. The experienced hospital malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP Personal Injury Lawyers will work diligently to help you seek the best legal outcome possible under the facts of your case. You can reach us via our online form or at 833-200-2000 to schedule a meeting to discuss your case.


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