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New York Court Overturns Dismissal of Medical Malpractice Case Due to Disputed Facts

Medical malpractice cases are typically fact-intensive and whether a plaintiff’s case is successful often depends on an expert’s interpretation of the facts. In cases where the defendant seeks to have a case dismissed, the defendant must show that there is no evidence that it breached the applicable standard of care, or if it did the breach was not the cause of the plaintiff’s harm. In arguing the care provided was not negligent, however, the defendant cannot pick and choose which facts should be considered.

This was recently explained by an appellate court in New York in a case in which the court overturned a ruling dismissing the plaintiff’s claims against the defendant on the grounds that there was a factual dispute as to the care provided. If negligent medical care caused you harm, you should consult an experienced Syracuse medical malpractice attorney to analyze the facts surrounding your treatment and whether you may be able to pursue damages.

The Plaintiff’s Treatment

It is reported that the plaintiff presented to the defendant physician assistant three times over an 11 day period in 2008 with complaints of ear pain, sinus pain, and headaches. The defendant physician assistant diagnosed the plaintiff with an ear infection and sinusitis and prescribed him antibiotics. His symptoms continued to worsen and he visited the emergency department of the defendant hospital twice during the 11 day period, where he allegedly complained of a severe headache and stated he believed he had suffered a stroke.

Allegedly, there was also evidence that the plaintiff had symptoms of a stroke during that time, including facial droop, difficulty walking and finding the appropriate word and slurring of his speech. On March 25, 11 days after his initial treatment, he was diagnosed as having a stroke. The plaintiff subsequently filed a medical malpractice action against the defendants, the physician assistant, hospital, and attending physician at the hospital, for failing to accurately diagnose his stroke in a timely manner.

Disputed Facts in Medical Malpractice Cases

The defendants filed motions for summary judgment, arguing there was no issue of fact as to whether they disputed the standard of care. The court granted the motions and the plaintiff appealed. On appeal, the court noted that the defendants’ experts relied solely on facts that were beneficial to the defendants in their reports opining that the defendants did not breach the applicable standard of care, ignoring evidence that the plaintiff was exhibiting symptoms of a stroke when he treated with the defendants. The court stated, however, that it is established law that experts cannot rely upon disputed facts when offering an opinion. Further, the expert reports did not adequately address the issue of whether a timely diagnosis would have prevented the need for surgery. As such, the court reversed the trial court’s order granting summary judgment.

Confer with a Seasoned Syracuse Medical Malpractice Attorney to Discuss your Case

All medical providers are required to provide competent care. If you were injured due to a missed diagnosis, you should confer with a seasoned Syracuse medical malpractice attorney to discuss your case and your options for pursuing compensation for your harm. The skilled medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano will work diligently to develop strong arguments in favor of your recovery. We can be contacted at 315-479-9000 or through our online form to schedule a free and confidential meeting.

More Blog Posts:

New York Woman Wins Malpractice Suit for Failure to Diagnose Glaucoma, Syracuse Medical Malpractice and Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, November 28, 2018

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