Articles Posted in Hospital Negligence

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There are a seemingly endless variety of ways in which a medical provider’s neglect and lack of concern for patient safety can lead to a Syracuse medical negligence case. In addition to cases involving a doctor’s failure to diagnose a serious illness within a reasonable amount of time or a surgeon’s neglect to obtain informed consent before performing a risky medical procedure, there are many other situations in which a patient can be hurt by an act of negligence committed by a hospital, doctor, or other healthcare worker.

Of course, results are seldom guaranteed in the medical field, and opinions can vary about what was, and what was not, negligence. Sometimes, it is up to the jury to makes these decisions, but courts can enter summary judgment on the issue in certain circumstances.

Because summary judgment effectively ends the plaintiff’s case, at least as to some claims, and/or some defendants, a court’s ruling on this matter is reviewable on appeal. The burden on appeal rests on the party seeking to disturb the lower court’s ruling; if the appellate tribunal is not convinced that a mistake was made, the trial court’s opinion will likely stand.

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Syracuse personal injury cases have many steps. Once an attorney has been contacted and an investigation has been made into the facts of the event giving rise to the litigation, the next step is to file a formal complaint in a court of law. After that, the case proceeds to the discovery phase.

Just as the name suggests, the discovery phase of litigation is the time during which each side is allowed an opportunity to learn more about his or her opponent’s case. Of course, there are limitations on the scope of such discovery, and disputes can arise regarding whether one party or the other has stepped over the line of what is acceptable.

The trial court controls the discovery phase of litigation, ruling upon the various motions of the litigants as the matter progresses. When a ruling is unfavorable, the affected party may be able to have the matter reviewed by a higher court (although, in some situations, the matter cannot be appealed until after the case has proceeded to a later phase of litigation, such as trial or disposition by summary judgment).

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One of the first questions that must be dealt with in a Syracuse medical malpractice case is that of jurisdiction. This is usually a fairly straightforward issue, as the plaintiff and his or her physicians or other attendant medical personnel typically all reside within the state in which the allegedly negligent medical treatment took place.

This is not always so, however. In such instances, there may be a plausible argument for jurisdiction in multiple states, or in multiple courts within a single state. Sometimes, the question is whether to file suit in state or federal court. An established medical malpractice lawyer can assist you in determining the best course of action if you or a loved one has been injured by a doctor or nurse’s mistake.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, arising in the Supreme Court, Kings County, the plaintiff was a woman who was involved in a New Jersey automobile accident in 2013. As a result of the wreck, the plaintiff was treated by various medical providers and was prescribed a certain medication. According to the woman’s complaint against several healthcare providers and drug manufacturers, she developed a condition known as “Stevens Johnson syndrome” as a result of the medication that she took following the car crash. The plaintiff’s prescription was allegedly filled in New York, although at least some of her medical care took place in New Jersey. She filed suit in 2014, seeking to recover money damages on several different legal theories, including medical malpractice, strict product liability, failure to warn, and breach of warranty.

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A Syracuse medical malpractice case begins with the plaintiff filing a lawsuit against the allegedly negligent doctor, hospital, or another medical provider. The defendant(s) then files an answer, addressing each of the allegations made by the plaintiff in his or her suit.

From there, the case typically proceeds to the discovery phase of litigation, a time during which each party has an opportunity to send written interrogatories and requests to produce documents to the other. These are usually followed up by depositions of the parties and their respective medical expert witnesses. If the parties cannot agree on the handling of the discovery phase of the litigation, it is likely that one or both parties will seek the court’s help, sometimes by a motion to compel.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiffs were a husband and wife who sued several defendants, including a hospital, a medical doctor, and a radiology group, asserting a claim for medical malpractice due to the defendants’ alleged negligence in the treatment of the male plaintiff and seeking monetary compensation for the plaintiffs’ damages resulting from the defendants’ conduct. During the pre-trial phase of the case, a dispute arose between the parties with regard to whether the defendant doctor should be compelled to attend a further deposition and answer certain questions regarding certain subsequent medical treatment of the male plaintiff.

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Birth injuries caused by negligence during childbirth and delivery are, unfortunately, quite common. Just like surgeons and general practitioners, obstetricians and pediatricians sometimes make mistakes, and both mother and child can suffer serious, sometimes even fatal, consequences.

As with other types of Syracuse medical malpractice lawsuits, the plaintiff has the burden of proving his or her case by a preponderance of the evidence. Typically, the defendant will attempt to get the case dismissed prior to trial via summary judgment.

When this happens, the result usually depends on the strength of the parties’ respective medical expert witnesses. Unless there is a genuine issue of material fact presented by their affidavits, the court will likely rule in the defendant’s favor.

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Syracuse medical malpractice lawsuits often come down to a “battle of the experts.” Sometimes this happens during the pre-trial phase, in which the parties submit their respective expert witnesses’ statements in support of, or in opposition to, a motion by the defendant(s) for judgment as a matter of law. Unless the plaintiff’s expert opinion is such that it can effectively refute the defendant’s motion and the defendant’s evidence in support thereof, the plaintiff’s case may end before it reaches the trial phase.

In other situations, the case proceeds to a jury trial, and multiple experts testify. Each will likely offer a different opinion, and it will be up to the jury to resolve any conflicts in the testimony of these witnesses. If you believe that you have a claim for medical malpractice against a doctor or other health care provider, you should talk to an attorney who can assist you in the process of finding an appropriate expert witness to review your medical records and, if necessary, testify at trial.

Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs in a recent medical malpractice case arising in the Supreme Court of Kings County were the statutory wrongful death claimants of a 51-year-old man who died after being treated by the defendant medical providers several times over a multi-day period in 2009. The man had suffered with high blood pressure since his teens but had stopped taking his medication for hypertension about 6 months prior to his treatment by the defendants. When he first presented to the emergency room, he complained of a mild cough, chest pain, fever, chills, and malaise.  He was admitted to the hospital and released three days later, returned the same day that he was released only to return the next day, and died about a week later after having experienced both a stroke and a heart attack.

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In most Syracuse medical malpractice cases, one or more healthcare provider defendants will file what is known as a “motion for summary judgment.” This procedural device may sound harmless enough, but it is often deadly to the plaintiff’s pursuit of fair compensation for an act of medical negligence.

Summary judgment can effectively end a plaintiff’s case as to certain defendants, certain claims, or in its entirety. When a trial court grants such a motion, the court is basically telling the plaintiff that, even if everything he or she says is true, there is no genuine issue of material fact in his or her case and the defendant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fortunately, there is an appellate process for reviewing a trial court’s granting of summary judgment. Many such appeals are successful, giving the plaintiff’s a second chance to have his or her case proceed to a trial on the merits.

Facts of the Case

In a case arising in the Supreme Court of Erie County, the plaintiff was the administratrix of the estate of a man who died from acute respiratory failure following a hypoxic brain injury that occurred as a result of an emergency tracheostomy that was performed when the man returned to the defendant medical center after he had been dismissed earlier in the day when the defendant anesthesiologist and a nurse (who was employed by the medical center) failed in their attempts to intubate the man in preparation for surgery on his shoulder.

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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.

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Most medical procedures come with some degree of risk. Patients are supposed to be informed of both the potential risks and benefits of a given procedure prior to giving their consent. When a physician fails to obtain informed consent, or if the doctor deviates from the standard of care and injures the patient by his or her mistake, a Syracuse medical malpractice claim may be possible against the negligent medical provider. Like other types of medical negligence cases, surgical malpractice cases usually require expert testimony in order to establish several elements, including the standard of care that the doctor should have followed and whether any deviation from this standard was the proximate cause of harm to the patient.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case considered on appeal by the New York Appellate Division, First Department, the plaintiff was a woman who alleged that she had suffered an injury to her brachial plexus as a result of an interscalene nerve block, which she underwent prior to having arthroscopic surgery on her shoulder. She filed a medical malpractice lawsuit in the Supreme Court of New York County, seeking monetary compensation from several defendants, including the anesthesiologist who performed the nerve block, an anesthesiology fellow, a medical center, and the physician who performed the plaintiff’s shoulder surgery. The trial court granted summary judgment to the anesthesiologist, the anesthesiology fellow, and the medical center, prompting the plaintiff to seek appellate review.

Outcome of the Appeal

The appellate court modified the lower court’s decision to vacate the dismissal of the plaintiff’s complaint against the anesthesiologist and the medical center, thereby reinstating the medical malpractice and lack of informed consent claims against the anesthesiologist and the vicarious liability claim against the medical center (based on the doctrine of ostensible agency). According to the reviewing court, the lower tribunal had been wrong in granting summary judgment to the anesthesiologist because the plaintiff’s expert affidavits raised issues of fact on the issues of the defendants’ alleged deviation from the standard of care and causation.

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Generally speaking, a claim for medical malpractice must be filed within two and one-half years (30 months) of an alleged act of medical negligence in the state of New York. While some circumstances can operate to lengthen the time for filing a claim, other circumstances can shorten the period substantially. For instance, if the defendant in a proposed Syracuse birth injury lawsuit is a governmental entity, the plaintiff may have as little as 90 days in which to file a notice of claim (a condition precedent to the filing of a lawsuit against certain government entities, including those who own or operate hospitals).

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the petitioner was an infant, proceeding through his mother and natural guardian, who sought to assert a medical malpractice claim against the respondent city hospital corporation (a public entity). Although the infant was discharged from the hospital shortly after his birth in April 2013, he did not file a motion for leave to serve a late notice of claim until May 2016 – more than three years after the alleged act of medical negligence. The Supreme Court of New York County denied the petitioner’s motion for leave to serve a late notice of claim, and he appealed.

The Court’s Decision

The New York Appellate Division, First Department, affirmed the lower court’s order denying the relief sought by the petitioner. According to the court, both the infant and his mother received pre- and post-natal care at the respondent’s hospital in 2013. In the reviewing court’s opinion, any medical malpractice claim that the petitioner might have had against the respondent accrued upon the petitioner’s discharge from the hospital; thus the applicable claims period began to run more than three years prior to the filing of the petitioner’s motion for leave to serve a late notice of claim.

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