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New York Appellate Division Rules Against Hip Surgery Patient Who Allegedly Had Recurrent MRSA Infection Following Surgery

A Syracuse hospital malpractice case may be based on one or several alleged breaches of the duty of care towards a patient. Failing to properly diagnose and treat an infection is one possible issue that could arise in such a case.

In order to prove negligence against a medical provider, the burden of proof rests on the plaintiff to establish, by expert proof, the duty of care that was applicable to the patient at the time in question. The plaintiff must also show that this duty was breached and that the breach of duty was the proximate cause of the injuries for which he or she seeks monetary compensation in the lawsuit at hand.

If the plaintiff is unable to produce competent and convincing medical expert testimony to support his or her theory of negligence, his or her case is likely to get dismissed on the defendant’s motion for summary judgment. In such a situation, the plaintiff’s case will not reach the jury, and he or she will receive $0 in compensation.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case appealed from the Supreme Court of New York County, the plaintiff was a man who had undergone orthopedic hip surgery at a hospital owned by the defendant city health and hospital corporation. He filed suit against the defendant, attempting to assert a claim for medical practice. As grounds, the plaintiff claimed that he had contracted a Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacterium infection due to the defendant’s negligence.

The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, relying upon the statement of an expert witness to the effect that the defendant had not departed from good and accepted medical practice. In response, the plaintiff submitted a separate expert witness’s affidavit. The trial court ruled in favor of the defendant and granted its motion for summary judgment. The plaintiff sought appellate review.

The Decision of the Reviewing Court

The New York Appellate Division, First Department, affirmed the lower court’s order entering summary judgment in favor of the defendant. In so holding, the court pointed out that, by submitting an infectious diseases expert’s opinion to the effect that the plaintiff had not shown any signs of a MRSA infection (or a recurrence thereof) during his hospitalization, the defendant had established, prima facie, that it had not departed from good and accepted medical practice.

Although the plaintiff had also submitted an expert witness’s opinion, the appellate tribunal ruled that the plaintiff’s expert had given a conclusory opinion and, furthermore, the expert had therefore failed to support his assertion that the plaintiff had a MRSA infection at the time that fluid was detected on a CT scan. The court also noted that the plaintiff had failed to show any signs of a MRSA infection during his three weeks at the defendant’s facility and that his expert had not articulated in causal connection between any purported delay in the diagnosis of the plaintiff’s MRSA infection and the injuries for which he sought compensation.

If You Need to Speak to a Syracuse Attorney

Many hospital malpractice cases come down to a battle of the experts. If you or a loved one has been hurt by a negligent medical provider, you need to talk to an attorney who can help you find an appropriate medical expert to review your medical records and, if necessary, testify on your behalf in court. To schedule a free consultation, call DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP today at 315-479-9000. You can also contact us through this website. If you are unable to come into our offices for an appointment, we can speak over the phone or come to your home or hospital room for a meeting, if necessary.

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