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New York Court Dismisses Injured Man’s Claim Accusing Hospital of Negligence and Other Wrongs Following Delay in Therapy Treatment

Timely access to healthcare can sometimes be a “life or death” matter; if the patient does not get prompt medical attention, he or she will die or suffer great physical harm. More often, however, a brief delay in care will have a much less severe outcome on the patient’s health.

A recent case explored the differences in these types of situations, with the end result being that a case accusing a hospital with negligence due to a delay in treatment was dismissed. The patient in question did promptly receive surgery for his injuries but, due to a delay in payment authorization by an insurance company, had to wait before receiving outpatient therapeutic services in follow-up to his surgery.

It is unclear from the court’s opinion what damages the patient claimed due to the delay. Perhaps he believed that his ultimate outcome would have been better had he engaged in therapy sooner, or maybe he was aggrieved by what he perceived as additional discomfort, pain, and suffering caused by the delay. If you have questions regarding the circumstances surrounding a medical provider’s delayed treatment of an injury, it is important that you speak with a Syracuse medical malpractice lawyer promptly to determine whether you may file a claim for damages.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case arising in the Supreme Court of Bronx County, the plaintiff was a man who was admitted to the defendant medical center for surgery following a severe, work-related injury to his hand. After he was released by his physician, the plaintiff was prescribed occupational therapy and physical therapy for his injuries, and these were supposed to take place at the defendant’s facility. However, there was a delay in the start day of the therapy because of issues in the authorization of the treatment by the plaintiff’s employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier.

The plaintiff’s suit against the defendant asserted that the defendant had been negligent in not beginning his hand therapy on the date originally set by his doctor; he also sought relief under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act of 1986 (codified at 42 U.S.C. § 1395dd) and New York Public Health Law § 2805-b. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s complaint. The trial court denied the motion, and the defendant appealed.

Ruling of the Appellate Tribunal

The New York Appellate Division, First Department, reversed the lower court’s order and granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss. According to the court, the plaintiff’s complaint failed to state a claim because, under New York law, a medical provider such as the defendant had no general duty to accept a particular patient for treatment, especially in cases in which there had been no authorization for payment. In rejecting the plaintiff’s claims under the federal act, the reviewing court noted that treatment at issue was not for emergent care and did not involving the kind of “patient dumping” proscribed under the applicable statute.

As to the plaintiff’s claim under state health laws, the court held that no private right of action existed under the statute upon which the plaintiff relied and that, hence, the trial court should have dismissed this claim.

Talk to a Syracuse Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Although the plaintiff in this case was ultimately unsuccessful in his efforts to seek compensation for the hospital’s actions, those who have been injured by a Syracuse medical provider’s failure to diagnose, monitor, or treat an injury or illness may be entitled to substantial money damages in some cases. For a free consultation to discuss your claims with a member of our litigation team, call the law firm of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP at 315-479-9000. There is no charge for the consultation. In most cases, no upfront legal fees are required, and you are not charged until your case is settled or a judgment has been entered in your favor in a court of law.

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