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New York Woman’s Medical Malpractice Case Against Gynecologist Following Complications from Sterilization Survives Summary Judgment Motion

Most Syracuse medical malpractice lawsuits revolve around the issue of whether the defendant healthcare provider deviated from the standard of care that applied to the plaintiff’s medical treatment and/or whether any such deviation was the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries or death. This is not always the only potential claim, however.

In addition, in some cases, the plaintiff may be able to assert what is known as a “lack of informed consent” claim. A plaintiff who asserts such a claim against a defendant medical provider is, in most cases, alleging that he or she was not given sufficient information about the risks, benefits, and alternatives to a course of treatment to make an informed choice in the matter.

Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs in a medical malpractice case appealed from the Supreme Court of Richmond County was a woman, joined by her husband (asserting a derivative claim), who sought to assert a medical malpractice claim against the defendants (a gynecologist and the medical practice that employed him). According to the plaintiffs, the defendants had failed to obtain informed consent for a sterilization procedure undergone by the woman and/or had departed from the accepted standard of care for the procedure. The plaintiffs further asserted that, as a result of the defendants’ negligence, the woman had suffered serious personal injuries and had required extensive medical treatment, including a quadruple bypass surgery.

The defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, asking the trial court to enter judgment as a matter of law in their favor. The trial court declined to do so, and the defendants appealed.

The Court’s Decision on Appeal

The New York Appellate Division, Second Department, affirmed, holding that the trial court had acted appropriately in denying the defendants’ motion for summary judgment. The court began by stating the familiar rule that, in order prevail upon a claim for medical malpractice, the burden is on the plaintiff to prove that the doctor or medical provider against whom the claim was asserted deviated or departed from the acceptable standard of medical practice and that this departure was a proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. The court also noted that, in a case asserting a claim for lack of consent, the plaintiff must be able to show (among other things) that the defendant failed to disclose alternatives to the treatment that the plaintiff underwent and/or failed to inform the patient of reasonably foreseeable risks associated with the treatment.

Here, the parties offered conflicting affidavits concerning whether the defendant gynecologist had departed from the applicable standard of care and/or had discussed the risks and treatment alternatives with the plaintiff. In the reviewing court’s opinion, summary judgment was not appropriate because it was the jury’s job to judge the credibility of the conflicting experts’ opinions. With regard to a particular allegation by the plaintiff that the defendant gynecologist has failed to diagnose her diabetes in a timely manner, the court held that this was not – as asserted by the defendants on appeal – a new theory of liability asserted for the first time in the plaintiffs’ opposition to the defendants’ motion for summary judgment.

To Schedule a Consultation with a Medical Malpractice Lawyer in Syracuse

If you believe that you have been the victim of obstetrical or gynecological malpractice, you should review your case with an experienced Syracuse medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible. Malpractice cases must be filed within a certain amount of time, so seeking legal counsel promptly is very important. To schedule a free consultation about your potential claim, please contact DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP for an appointment by using the “contact us” section of this website or phoning us at 833-200-2000.

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