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NY Court Discusses What Constitutes a Doctor-Patient Relationship in an Orthopedic Malpractice Case

One of the essential elements of any medical malpractice claim is a doctor-patient relationship. While in most instances, whether a doctor-patient relationship exists is not disputed in some cases the status of the relationship between the injured party and the physician that allegedly caused the injured party harm is not clear. This was illustrated in a recent New York case in which the plaintiff alleged that he was injured due to medical malpractice committed during an independent medical examination that was conducted by an orthopedist for insurance purposes. If you sustained injuries due to orthopedic malpractice it is in your best interest to retain a skilled Syracuse orthopedic malpractice attorney as soon as possible to represent you in your pursuit of compensation.

Factual Background of the Case

Allegedly, the plaintiff sustained injuries to his left shoulder in a car accident. He subsequently presented to the defendant orthopedist for an independent medical examination for insurance purposes. During the examination, the defendant reportedly applied strong pressure to the plaintiff’s left kneecap, causing him pain. The defendant then held the plaintiff’s left arm and bent it, causing a popping sound and extreme pain. The plaintiff subsequently required injections in his left shoulder and other additional treatment. He filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant. The defendant then filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the plaintiff could not recover as a matter of law because no doctor-patient relationship existed.

Elements of a Doctor-Patient Relationship

A medical malpractice lawsuit arises out of the breach a doctor owes his or her patient. Thus, if there is no doctor-patient relationship, there is no basis for a medical malpractice lawsuit. In cases in which the plaintiff is examined by a doctor at the request of an insurance company, a doctor-patient relationship is typically not established unless the doctor affirmatively treats the plaintiff or advises the plaintiff regarding treatment. Regardless, a doctor that conducts an independent medical examination may be held liable for malpractice if he or she causes an injury to the plaintiff during the examination.

In other words, a limited doctor plaintiff relationship is created during an independent medical examination. Therefore, while a doctor that conducts an independent medical examination cannot be held liable under a theory of malpractice for his or her medical conclusions and determinations, he or she can be found liable for malpractice due to an injury caused by the manipulation of a body part, which constitutes treatment. Thus, in the subject case, the court found that the defendant’s argument that he could not be held liable for the plaintiff’s alleged harm as a matter of law failed. Further, the conflicting testimony as to the manner in which independent medical examinations were typically conducted created a triable issue of material fact. As such, the court denied the defendant’s motion for summary judgment.

Retain a Trusted Orthopedic Malpractice Attorney Regarding Your Case

If you suffered harm due to orthopedic malpractice it is critical to retain a trusted Syracuse orthopedic malpractice attorney to represent you in your pursuit of damages. The proficient orthopedic malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers will work diligently to help you recover compensation to repair the harm caused by your doctor’s inadequate care. You can contact us at 833-200-2000 or via our form online to set up a meeting regarding your case.


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