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surgeryWhen we visit a hospital, clinic, or other medical facility, we expect that any instruments used will be sterilized. If you or someone close to you has been adversely affected by contaminated instruments, it is imperative to reach out to a knowledgeable Syracuse surgical malpractice attorney who can help. At DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers, we understand how dirty instruments can cause serious health problems, such as infections and illnesses. You can rest assured that we will analyze the facts of your case and help you mount a strong case for financial compensation.

Unfortunately, the use of contaminated instruments may be more common than you think. According to a pilot program conducted by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, out of 1,500 outpatient surgery centers that were inspected, about 28 percent were cited for infection control deficiencies related to surgical instrument cleaning and sterilization. Using unclean instruments can lead to a number of adverse consequences, including infections, loss of limb, and even death.

Hospitals have a duty to make sure that germs, disease, and contamination are kept in check through proper sterilization methods. When a dirty instrument injures a patient, that patient may be able to recover compensation through a medical malpractice claim. Medical malpractice is defined as a failure to render care or treatment in accordance with the accepted standards of medical practice. In other words, medical malpractice takes place when a person or entity causes a patient harm by deviating from the level of care that a reasonably prudent person or entity would have used in the same or a similar situation. For example, a hospital adhering to the accepted standard of care would have a system in place to ensure each instrument was sterilized before it was used on a patient. As a result, a hospital that caused a patient harm by failing to do this would likely be liable for malpractice.

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moneyIf you or a loved one has been injured due to a medical professional’s error in judgment, you may be entitled to compensation for your harm. At DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers, our Syracuse medical malpractice attorneys have the experience and determination that is needed to handle your case. You can rest assured that we can scrutinize the facts of your case and inform you of your legal rights and options.

In New York, medical malpractice is negligence on the part of a doctor or another health care provider. Negligence is defined as a failure of the doctor or health care provider to use reasonable care under the circumstances, thereby causing injuries or death to a patient. In other words, medical malpractice occurs when a medical professional causes harm by deviating from the accepted standard of care expected in that particular situation. The standard of care will vary from case to case depending on a number of factors, such as the patient’s age and medical history.

Damages in a medical malpractice case are designed to make a victim “whole again” by providing compensation for losses. In a New York medical malpractice case, the plaintiff is typically eligible for two types of compensation:  economic and non-economic. Economic damages are awarded to compensate the injured patient for losses resulting from the defendant’s negligence. Economic damages typically include things like medical expenses, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, and rehabilitation costs. Non-economic damages, on the other hand, compensate an injured patient for losses that are intangible or harder to quantify through a dollar amount, such as pain and suffering.

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backacheWe trust medical professionals to provide competent care, but the unfortunate reality is that mistakes do happen. Spinal cord injuries due to medical malpractice can have devastating consequences for a patient’s life. If you or someone close to you has suffered a spinal cord injury due to a medical professional’s negligence, our Syracuse medical malpractice attorneys can help. At DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers, we are committed to helping our clients pursue the compensation they need to move on with their lives.

The spinal cord is the column of nerve tissue protected by the spine and is in charge of delivering messages from the brain to the rest of the body. Our spinal cords are fragile, and injuries to this part of the body can lead to serious damage to the nervous system. As a result, spinal cord injuries often result in a disability and even partial or total paralysis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 11,000 people sustain spinal cord injuries each year. Unfortunately, some of these spinal cord injuries are results of medical malpractice.

Under New York law, medical malpractice occurs when a medical professional breaches the accepted standard of care, which then causes injuries to the patient. The standard of care refers to the level of care that another medical professional in the same specialty would have used under the same or similar circumstances. The standard of care will vary in each case depending on a number of factors, including the patient’s age and medical history. It is not enough to show that a medical professional breached the duty of care; a plaintiff must also show that the breach was a direct and proximate cause of his or her injury. This is typically established through the testimony of an expert witness.

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Surgical ProcedureMedical malpractice claims require testimony from expert witnesses in order to articulate the relevant standard of care for the medical professional who allegedly committed the negligent act. Not all expert testimony is admissible in New York medical malpractice cases. In fact, the United States Supreme Court articulated several factors that expert testimony must meet in order to be admissible. A November 16, 2017 decision, Norman v. All About Women PA, et al., case number K14C-12-003, reviewed an expert’s testimony on the standard of care in a medical malpractice lawsuit.

The plaintiff went to a clinic and received a diagnostic laparoscopy procedure, and during the operation, her bladder was punctured. She also alleged that the doctor closed her up without fixing the wound, requiring additional surgeries and hospital visits. The plaintiff filed a medical malpractice lawsuit and offered the expert testimony of a doctor to define the relevant standard of care broadly accepted within the medical community.

New York law has two primary elements in medical malpractice lawsuits. The plaintiff must establish that the actions of the medical professional deviated from the accepted standard of care and that such a deviation caused an injury to the plaintiff.

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MRIWhen it comes to surgery, timing can be everything. If the body reacts in unexpected ways to a surgical procedure, the physician performing the operation needs to react quickly in order to prevent long-term injuries or even death. It’s unfortunate, but instances of New York surgical malpractice are not uncommon. In a recent surgical malpractice case, the plaintiff alleged that he suffered permanent injuries because the surgeon performing the operation failed to act fast enough and caused permanent injuries.

The plaintiff was admitted to a medical center to treat what doctors speculated was a spinal epidural abscess. This condition involves the build-up of pus in the spine. The result is a compressed spinal cord and can be treated by antibiotics or, alternatively, by draining the build-up of pus. The medical center’s resident physician was assigned to the plaintiff’s care, and he correctly surmised that the plaintiff had a spinal epidural abscess before he consulted with another doctor.

What the plaintiff alleged in the lawsuit was troubling. Even though the assigned physician had initially speculated that the plaintiff had an abscess, the physician allegedly did not order an MRI or another method to confirm the diagnosis. In addition, he did not seek to remove the abscess until the plaintiff could no longer move his legs.

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Paper ShreddedNew York hospital malpractice cases require the review of voluminous medical records. Hospitals and health care providers are required to maintain these records, so a claim should simply be a matter of reviewing what’s disclosed or produced in the pre-trial discovery process. The facts surrounding a medical malpractice decision in which a behavioral health center destroyed physical medical records even after a lawsuit was pending are especially shocking. Without the records, this put the plaintiff at a serious disadvantage to prove the case. The court reviewed what should happen in an evidence spoliation case involving medical malpractice.

In this case, the decedent had a history of mental health problems. When his wife of over three decades passed away, he attempted suicide, which resulted in a December 2013 emergency room visit. The decedent was then admitted to a mental health facility. The decedent and his son, who was his legal guardian at the time, signed a voluntary admission form. The decedent was discharged from the clinic a few months later. Tragically, however, he committed suicide 10 days later.

The family of the decedent requested that the mental health facility retain the decedent’s records because they were considering a potential medical malpractice claim. The facility’s compliance chief ordered that the decedent’s paper records be sequestered. The family hired an attorney, who began discussions about the scope of document preservation with the facility. However, a new employee, who testified that she was not aware that records needed to be maintained, scanned the records electronically and then shredded the paper version.

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Test ResultsGenetic testing is a medical breakthrough that allows people to know whether they are at risk for certain life-threatening conditions. For example, genetic testing can be used to determine whether someone is at an elevated risk for certain types of cancer. If the physician analyzes the testing correctly, he or she may suggest that a patient undergo preventative surgery to greatly reduce the risk of cancer developing. Unfortunately, as a recent lawsuit shows, sometimes doctors can negligently perform genetic testing and perform completely unnecessary surgeries on a patient. A New York medical malpractice lawyer can help you bring a claim if this has happened to you.

The plaintiff, a woman in her mid-30s, went to visit an obstetrician-gynecologist, who reviewed her genetic testing and concluded that she had a 50% probability of being diagnosed with breast cancer and an 80% chance of being diagnosed with uterine cancer. As a result of the genetic testing, the plaintiff stated that she underwent the recommended procedures, a double mastectomy and a hysterectomy, to reduce her chances of getting those forms of cancer.

Her OB-GYN tested her for two specific gene mutations after the plaintiff notified her physician of a family history of cancer. The lawsuit alleges that the results were negative, but the nurse practitioner misinterpreted the results, and the plaintiff was allegedly told that she had a gene mutation that increased her risk of breast and uterine cancers. The nurse practitioner, who misinterpreted the results, referred the plaintiff to specialists, including a gynecologist, who performed her hysterectomy, and another surgeon, who performed her double mastectomy and reconstruction. The lawsuit complaint alleges that neither of the doctors independently confirmed the genetic testing results.

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Tennis CourtAthletes and people living active lifestyles risk injuries such as pulling muscles or tearing ligaments. Orthopedic specialists often work with athletes to help repair those types of sports-related injuries. The experience of a New York woman who received a surgical biopsy from an orthopedic surgeon shows what can go wrong in certain circumstances. The case between a high school tennis athlete and her orthopedic surgeon provides an example of a New York orthopedic malpractice case.

The plaintiff, formerly an all-star tennis player in high school, went to see an orthopedic surgeon about a benign bone growth, also known as osteochondoroma, in her left leg. The surgeon conducted the surgical biopsy and cut a nerve in the plaintiff’s leg. The resulting injury allegedly put her in a wheelchair and required months of physical therapy in order to regain the ability to walk. The plaintiff underwent another procedure to have the growth removed by another surgeon, although she still has pain in her leg that will allegedly continue for the rest of her life.

The plaintiff’s lawsuit against the surgeon alleged orthopedic malpractice. The elements for orthopedic malpractice in New York include:  (i) the plaintiff was under the care of an orthopedic specialist; (ii) in the course of treatment, the orthopedic specialist failed to conduct him or herself in accordance with the standards of orthopedic specialists in New York; and (iii) the plaintiff was injured because of the orthopedic specialist’s negligence.

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VA hospitals have the important role of serving United States veterans’ medical needs. As a federal government program, it’s subject to different laws, rules, and regulations than private hospitals or surgical centers. In an unfortunate news report, there are widespread allegations of medical malpractice, involving physicians from VA hospitals. The report notes that physicians who commit malpractice or fall beneath the standard of care are reassigned or asked to resign, and no report is allegedly made on their medical record.

Military Medals

The news report revolves around one doctor in particular who allegedly drilled the wrong screws into one patient’s ankles, incorrectly severed another patient’s tendon, and performed unnecessary surgeries on veterans. Deposition testimony from the VA hospital revealed that he was considered a “dangerous surgeon” by the hospital surgery chief. However, the VA allegedly did not terminate his employment with the VA or report him to a national database or licensing board. Instead, the doctor was allowed to resign and establish a private practice in New York.

New York hospital malpractice claims against VA hospitals are treated differently from claims for malpractice against private companies. Instead, federal law governs the procedures for filing claims against the United States government. The federal tort claims act disclaims governmental immunity and sets forth the procedures for patients to recover compensation for negligent medical acts. Some of the key distinctions from non-governmental malpractice claims include a two-year statute of limitations for claims, all claims being processed through federal court, and the claimant being required to file a federal tort claims act form before any case can proceed. Sometimes there are circumstances in which there are providers who are not employees of the VA who may have also provided negligent care. In that situation, people could have concurrent state and federal actions.

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Spinal CordPeople often seek chiropractic treatment to help with chronic neck or back pain. Chiropractors are credentialed differently from medical doctors and are regulated by a different New York licensing body, but they are still required to perform their treatments under a standard of care. The appeals court in a New York spinal cord injury case was asked to consider whether the expert witnesses in a chiropractic malpractice lawsuit had to have chiropractic expertise, or if more general medical knowledge would be sufficient.

The plaintiff hired the defendant, a chiropractor, to help alleviate chronic neck and back pain, along with headaches. After developing a treatment plan, the plaintiff visited the defendant for treatment 77 times. The treatment typically involved three spinal adjustments. Later, the plaintiff came into the defendant’s office for treatment after she returned from a jet skiing vacation. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant manipulated her spine in a violent or uncomfortable way, and she stopped attending treatments with the defendant. She began experiencing numbness, nausea, pain, and tingling and was admitted to a hospital shortly thereafter. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant caused her to experience trauma to the discs in her back and that she had to undergo back surgery as a result.

The plaintiff filed a lawsuit alleging chiropractic malpractice against the defendant. When the defendant moved for summary judgment, it was supported with affidavits from an orthopedic surgeon and a radiologist. Both experts testified that the plaintiff’s injuries were not caused by the defendant’s treatments. However, the trial court did not grant the defendant’s summary judgment motion because the experts did not demonstrate that they were qualified to opine on matters of chiropractic treatment.

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