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Appellate Court Finds That Summary Judgment Was Improper When New York Doctor Did Exercise Independent Medical Judgment

Sometimes a doctor or other medical provider will attempt to avoid a finding of liability in a Syracuse medical malpractice lawsuit by claiming that he or she did not exercise any independent medical judgment in the care and treatment of the patient. If a physician was truly just passing through the operating room at the time of the medical negligence, perhaps this is a justifiable defense. However, this argument is often revealed as less than truthful, once the facts begin to present themselves.

If the patient can establish that a doctor-patient relationship existed between the parties and that and the defendant doctor’s breach of the applicable standard of care was the proximate cause of the harm for which he or she seeks compensation, the patient may be entitle to payment for damages caused by the doctor’s negligent treatment or care.

The Facts of the Case

In a case appealed to the New York Appellate Division, Fourth Department the plaintiff was a mother who sought a monetary judgment for injuries that her daughter suffered when the defendant doctor allegedly failed to address certain postsurgery complications in a manner that was timely and appropriate. According to the plaintiff, the defendant’s treatment of her daughter had fallen below the applicable standard of care and this was a contributing factor for injuries for which she sought money damages.

The defendant sought summary judgment, arguing that the evidence presented by the plaintiff had failed to raise a triable issue of fact. The trial court agreed with the defendant’s view of the evidence and granted summary judgment to him. The plaintiff appealed.

The Result of the Appeal

The appellate tribunal reversed the lower court’s decision, holding that summary judgment in the doctor’s favor was erroneous. In so holding, the reviewing court pointed out that the doctor himself had submitted evidence that needed to be resolved by the trier of fact. In the court’s view, the doctor’s own deposition testimony, when combined with testimony offered by the daughter’s attending neurosurgeon, created a triable issue of fact regarding whether the defendant did or did not exercise “independent medical judgment.”

Rather than merely rely upon a report that had been prepared by a radiologist, the defendant had interpreted the results of a CT scan by consulting with other doctors on the matter. His testimony, apparently, had been to the effect that he did not believe a radiologist’s report was available to him at the time that he had been in contact with the neurosurgeon, who was in the process of developing an appropriate treatment plan for the patient.

Have Concerns to Discuss with a Medical Malpractice Attorney in Syracuse?

If you or a loved one has suffered because of a mistake made by a doctor or radiologist, you may be entitled to payment for medical expenses, lost earnings, pain and suffering, and related losses. To schedule a free consultation to discuss your case with an experienced Syracuse radiology malpractice attorney, call the law firm of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP, at 315-479-9000. Please remember that there is a limited time to file suit in medical malpractices cases, so it is important to talk to a lawyer about your case as soon as possible so that your legal rights do not become time barred.

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