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New York Court Dismisses Medical Malpractice Case Due to the Absence of a Doctor-Patient Relationship

Doctors have an obligation to provide their patients with competent care, and doctors that fail to uphold this duty may be deemed liable for medical malpractice. Medical malpractice can only arise in the context of a treatment relationship, however. In other words, if there is no patient-doctor relationship between an injured party and a physician, the courts will not consider any medical malpractice claim the injured party files against the physician. This was demonstrated recently in an opinion issued in a New York medical malpractice case. If you were injured by a treatment provider, it is in your best interest to meet with a  Syracuse medical malpractice attorney about your rights.

The Plaintiff’s Harm

It is alleged that the decedent fell from her bed and sustained fatal injuries. She was 87 years old. At the time of the fall, the defendant home health aid, who was assigned to care for the decedent by the defendant home health company, was sleeping in another room that she was provided by the decedent’s family.

Reportedly, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendants alleging claims of negligence, medical malpractice, wrongful death, and lack of informed consent. The defendants moved for summary judgment on all counts, and the court granted their motion. The plaintiff then appealed.

Establishing Liability for Medical Malpractice

The appellate court affirmed the trial court ruling. A core tenant of medical malpractice claims is the existence of a treatment relationship between the injured party and the defendant. In other words, only harm that arises out of the rendering of medical treatment will give rise to a medical malpractice claim. With regard to the medical malpractice and lack of informed consent claims in the subject case, the court explained that as there was no evidence of a patient-doctor relationship between the decedent and the defendants, the claims were properly dismissed.

The court affirmed the dismissal of the remainder of the plaintiff’s claims as well. Specifically, the court stated that if a defendant is responsible for caring for a person and subsequently abandons that person, they may be found liable for any harm caused by their desertion.

Here, the court noted that contrary to the plaintiff’s assertion, the defendants showed, prima facie, that they did not have an obligation to continuously monitor the decedent throughout the evening and that any purported breach of the duties owed did not lead to the decedent’s harm. In opposition, however, the plaintiff failed to raise a triable issue of act as to whether the defendants breached a duty of care owed to the decedent.

Speak to a Capable Medical Malpractice Attorney

People injured by negligent doctors may be able to recover damages in medical malpractice lawsuits, but only if they can establish the existence of a treatment relationship. If you are interested in pursuing claims against a physician, you should speak to an attorney as soon as possible. The capable Syracuse medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers can determine your potential causes of action and help you seek any damages you may be owed. 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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