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Court Discusses Demonstrating Liability for Medical Malpractice Under New York Law

It is not uncommon for a patient to undergo multiple procedures for a single medical issue. While typically, such treatment will offer them relief, in some cases, it will unfortunately result in compounded harm. In such cases, more than one provider may be deemed liable, as demonstrated in a recent New York case in which the plaintiffs sought medical malpractice claims against multiple defendants. If you were harmed due to an improperly performed procedure, it is advisable to talk to a Syracuse medical malpractice attorney about your rights.

Case Background

It is reported that the plaintiff underwent surgery at the defendant hospital involving mesh placement to repair a hernia. Another surgery was scheduled for later that year, with the defendant doctor as the surgeon, to perform a radical prostatectomy to treat the plaintiff husband’s prostate cancer. However, the defendant doctor aborted the procedure upon discovering intraoperatively that the mesh from the previous surgery had migrated, rendering the prostatectomy unsafe. Subsequently, the plaintiff husband’s prostate cancer was treated with radiation therapy.

Allegedly, the plaintiff husband and his wife, commenced an action against several defendants, including the defendant hospital and defendant doctor, to seek damages for medical malpractice and lack of informed consent resulting from surgeries performed on the plaintiff husband. The complaint alleged that the defendant hospital failed to properly implant the mesh and that the defendant doctor failed to discuss treatment alternatives for the prostatectomy, leading to a cause of action based on lack of informed consent. After discovery was complete, the defendants moved for summary judgment. The trial courts denied their respective motions, after which they appealed.

Demonstrating Liability for Medical Malpractice Under New York Law

On appeal, the court found that the trial court correctly denied the defendant hospital’s motion for summary judgment, as it failed to eliminate all triable issues of fact concerning whether it deviated from accepted medical practice during the hernia surgery and mesh placement. A defendant moving for summary judgment in a medical malpractice case must demonstrate the absence of material issues of fact regarding the deviation from accepted medical practice or causation of injury. The defendant hospital’s expert’s opinion was deemed conclusory and insufficient to refute the allegations in the bill of particulars, as it didn’t adequately address conflicting evidence about the mesh migration. Since the defendant hospital didn’t meet this prima facie burden, its motion for summary judgment was properly denied.

The court found, however, that the trial court should have granted the defendant doctor’s motion for summary judgment, dismissing the cause of action based on lack of informed consent. To establish such a cause of action, a plaintiff must prove that the medical practitioner failed to disclose alternatives, foreseeable risks, and benefits and that a reasonably prudent patient, if fully informed, would not have undergone the treatment. The defendant doctor’s submissions, including deposition testimonies, medical records, and an expert’s affirmation, were sufficient to establish that the plaintiff husband was informed of the foreseeable risks, benefits, and alternatives to the radical prostatectomy surgery. As such, the court found that the trial court should have granted the defendant doctor’s motion for summary judgment.

Talk to a Skilled Syracuse Medical Malpractice Attorney

People who undergo surgery expect their symptoms will improve, not that they will suffer harm, and providers who inadvertently injure their patients may be found liable for medical malpractice. If you were hurt by incompetent medical care, it is smart to talk to an attorney. The skilled Syracuse medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers can assist you in taking the measures necessary to protect your interests. You can contact us via our form online or by calling us at 833-247-8427 to set up a consultation.

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