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New York Court Differentiates Between Medical Malpractice and Deliberate Indifference Claims

It is not uncommon for people in facilities owned and operated by the federal government to receive medical care during their stay. If they subsequently suffer harm due to incompetent care, they may be able to seek recourse, but the nature of their claims depends in part on the egregiousness of the offending party’s actions. This was illustrated recently in a New York opinion in which the court dismissed the plaintiff’s claims that medical malpractice comprised a violation of his constitutional rights. If you were injured by a careless healthcare provider, you have the right to seek compensation, and you should contact a Syracuse medical malpractice attorney to discuss your prospective claims.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff, a resident of a facility owned and operated by the federal government, began to complain of symptoms of hepatitis following an outbreak. He reported his symptoms to the defendants, who were health care providers, who evaluated him but did not diagnose him with hepatitis. His symptoms worsened, and he asked to go to the emergency room, but his request was denied. He was ultimately hospitalized and diagnosed with hepatitis.

Allegedly, the plaintiff filed a complaint against the defendants averring that their negligence caused him to suffer permanent and severe injuries and a reduced earning capacity and violated his constitutional rights. The defendants then moved to dismiss his constitutional violation claims.

Medical Malpractice vs. Deliberate Indifference Claims

The court denied the defendants’ motion on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence to determine whether the alleged medical malpractice violated the plaintiff’s constitutional rights. In doing so, the court explained that it is well-established that a mere disagreement over suitable treatment for an illness or condition does not give rise to a constitutional claim.

Additionally, the court clarified that even if it constitutes medical malpractice, negligence, without more, does not create a constitutional claim. Certain acts of medical malpractice may rise to the level of deliberate indifference, though, specifically, when the acts involve culpable recklessness. In other words, an act or failure to act by a doctor that demonstrates a conscious disregard of a serious risk of substantial harm.

The court went on to say that whether a course of treatment was the product of negligence, sound medical judgment, or medical indifference must be evaluated under the facts of the case. Here, the court explained that it could not weigh the evidence to evaluate whether the defendants’ actions rose to the level of deliberate indifference. As such, it dismissed the defendants’ motion.

Talk to a Dedicated Medical Malpractice Attorney

Medical practitioners that perform their duties incompetently often cause grave injuries, and if they do, they should be held accountable for any losses that arise out of their negligence. If you were hurt by a careless doctor, you should talk to an attorney about your options. The dedicated  Syracuse medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers can inform you of your rights and aid you in seeking the full amount of damages recoverable under the law. You can reach us via our form online or by calling us at 833-200-2000 to set up a meeting.

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