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New York Court Illustrates the Difference Between Ordinary Negligence and Medical Malpractice

If a patient suffers harm at the hands of a doctor, people often assume that the doctor committed malpractice. While in many instances the assumption is accurate, doctors can also hurt people through ordinary carelessness, and in such cases, a medical malpractice claim would not be appropriate. The difference between standard negligence claims and those asserting medical malpractice was the topic of a recent New York opinion in a matter in which the plaintiff asserted she was harmed by the defendant doctor at birth. If you or your child suffered a birth injury, it is important to meet with a knowledgeable Syracuse birth injury attorney as soon as possible to discuss your rights.

The Plaintiff’s Allegations

It is reported that the plaintiff, who was born in 1999, suffered harm after her birth during the transfer from the delivery room. Specifically, she was injured when the defendant obstetrician tossed her to another person. As such, she filed a lawsuit against the defendant on January 6, 2020, alleging claims of negligence. The defendant moved for dismissal, arguing that the plaintiff’s claims sounded in medical malpractice and that she failed to pursue her claims within the statute of limitations or file a required certificate of merit.

Ordinary Negligence Versus Medical Malpractice Under New York Law

Upon review of the pleadings, the court found in favor of the plaintiff. The court explained that, under New York law, the difference between malpractice and ordinary negligence hinges on whether the harmful omissions or acts involve an issue of medical science or art that requires special skills that an ordinary layperson will not typically possess, or whether the behavior at issue can instead be evaluated on the basis of the factfinder’s common everyday experience.

Usually, a claim will be found to sound in medical malpractice if the injurious conduct comprises medical care or bears a substantial relationship to medical treatment provided by a licensed doctor. When the basis of an action concerns a purported failure to use ordinary and reasonable care to protect a patient’s safety, however, a claim will be one of ordinary negligence.

In the subject case, the defendant argued that there were practices, customs, and standards pertaining to professional conduct in a delivery room. He only provided an excerpt from a hospital website in support of his assertion, though. Thus, the court found that he provided no evidence regarding transferring infants from one room to the other after birth. Further, the court found that the act of throwing a newborn to another doctor was not the product of medical advisement but was an act that could be evaluated by a layperson. Thus, the defendant’s arguments were rejected.

Speak to an Experienced Syracuse Attorney

Birth injuries can cause lifelong detriments, and in many cases, they are the result of medical negligence. If you or your child suffered harm at birth, it is advisable to speak to a lawyer to determine what claims you may be able to pursue. At DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP Personal Injury Lawyers, our experienced birth injury attorneys can advise you of your rights and help you to pursue the full amount of compensation recoverable under the law. You can contact us through our form online or by calling 315-479-9000 to schedule a meeting.

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