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New York Court Examines Requirements for Pursuing Medical Malpractice Claims Against Federal Employees

The federal government funds many medical facilities in New York; as such, the healthcare providers that work in such facilities are often considered federal employees. Whether a physician works for a private or public corporation matters, in part, if the physician engages in behavior that constitutes malpractice, as it impacts how a plaintiff must pursue claims against them. This was demonstrated recently in a New York medical malpractice case in which the court dismissed the plaintiff’s lawsuit on the grounds that she failed to exhaust her administrative remedies prior to pursuing claims against the defendant. If you suffered harm because of a doctor’s carelessness, it is advisable to consult a Syracuse medical malpractice lawyer to discuss your possible remedies.

Procedural Background of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff treated with the defendant doctor during her pregnancy. Tragically, the plaintiff’s son suffered injuries at birth, including brain damage, cerebral palsy, seizures, and the inability to walk. The plaintiff attributed the infant’s injuries to the defendant’s failure to perform an emergency C-section. During the relevant period, the defendant worked for a health center that received federal funding.

Reportedly, approximately two years after the infant’s birth, the plaintiff submitted an administrative claim to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Six weeks later, she instituted a medical malpractice claim against the defendant in state court. HHS did not issue a written determination regarding the claim at that time. The United States removed the case to federal court. It then moved to substitute itself as a defendant and dismiss the plaintiff’s complaint due to her failure to exhaust her administrative remedies.

Requirements for Pursuing Medical Malpractice Claims Against Federal Employees

The court ultimately granted the United States’ motion. Prior to doing so, however, the court explained that the issue of whether to grant the motion required an assessment of the duties imposed by the Federal Tort Claims Act (the FTCA) and other federal laws.

Under the FTCA, a plaintiff can only pursue medical malpractice claims against a federal employee if they first exhaust their administrative remedies. In other words, they must either obtain a federal agency’s final determination of their claim or the agency must fail to make such a determination within six months of when the claim was filed. In the subject case, the plaintiff failed to exhaust her administrative remedies, which the court explained was a jurisdictional requirement that could not be waived. As such, the court granted the motion.

Confer with an Experienced Syracuse Medical Malpractice Attorney

Doctors working for the federal government must abide by the same standards as other physicians, and if they offer incompetent care, they may be deemed liable for medical malpractice. If you suffered losses because of the recklessness of a physician, you might be owed compensation, and you should confer with an attorney. The experienced Syracuse medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers have ample experience handling complex claims against negligent physicians, and if you hire us, we will diligently pursue the best result possible under the facts of your case. You can reach us by using our form online or by calling us at 833-200-2000 to set up a meeting.

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