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New York Court Discusses a Plaintiff’s Burden of Proof in a Medical Malpractice Case

Under New York law, a plaintiff alleging harm due to medical negligence must prove that the treating provider deviated from the standard of care that is accepted in the relevant community. Even if a plaintiff meets this burden, he or she may be denied the right to recover damages, however, unless it is also established that the breach of the duty owed caused the plaintiff to suffer quantifiable harm. The consequence of the failure to demonstrate causation was the topic of a recent opinion issued by a New York court, in a matter in which the court dismissed the plaintiff’s malpractice claims against a hospital. If you were harmed by a careless physician, you might be owed compensation, and it is smart to speak to a skillful Syracuse medical malpractice lawyer about your options.

The Decedent’s Harm

It is reported that the decedent was admitted to the defendant hospital with complaints of dizziness and shortness of breath. During his admission, he fell while standing to answer a telephone and fractured his cervical spine. He underwent surgery to repair the fracture but suffered complications and had to be placed on a ventilator. He was taken off of life support and died a short time later.

The plaintiffs, representatives of the decedent’s estate, filed medical malpractice claims against the defendant, alleging it failed to determine that the decedent was at an increased risk for falls and to take appropriate measures to prevent him from falling. The defendant moved for dismissal via summary judgment, and the court granted its motion. The plaintiff then appealed.

A Plaintiff’s Burden of Proof in Medical Malpractice Cases

On appeal, the appellate court affirmed the trial court ruling. The court explained that, pursuant to New York law, a plaintiff alleging medical malpractice must prove: the standard of care that applies where the defendant practices, that the defendant breached the standard of care, and that the breach proximately caused the alleged injury.

Here, the court noted that the plaintiff established the standard of care and offered expert testimony showing that the defendant departed from the standard of care by underestimating the decedent’s risk for falling. The plaintiff’s expert conceded, however, that despite its failure to properly assess the decedent’s fall risk, the hospital imposed increased fall prevention measures. Notably, the fall protocol implemented when the decedent fell was the same as those that would be used for high-risk patients, and the plaintiff’s expert stated that he did not take any issue with the protocol. The court ultimately found that such admissions were fatal to the plaintiff’s claims and affirmed the dismissal of their case.

Speak to a Trusted Syracuse Lawyer

Hospitals have a duty to protect patients from harm, which includes instituting fall prevention measures. If you were injured due to a hospital’s careless disregard of safety procedures, you could be owed damages, and you should speak to a lawyer as soon as possible. At DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers, our trusted hospital malpractice attorneys can assess the circumstances surrounding your injuries and advise you of what damages you may be able to recover. You can reach us via our form online or by calling 833-247-8427 to set up a meeting.

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