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Summary Judgment in Failure-to-Diagnose Stroke Case Reversed by New York Appellate Court

With the vast knowledge of the internet readily at our fingertips, it can be tempting these days to attempt to self-diagnose an illness or medical condition based on the particular symptoms that we have. However, we quickly learn that our symptoms may result from a wide array of medical conditions – a persistent headache could indicate anything from simple dehydration to a brain tumor.

That’s why a sensible person who is experiencing medical issues goes to an expert – a doctor or a hospital, depending on the severity of the symptoms. Unfortunately, many New York medical malpractice cases are filed annually due to the failure of these so-called medical professionals to correctly diagnose or treat a patient’s medical condition.

Facts of the Case

A recent appellate case heard in the Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division, Fourth Judicial Department involved a medical malpractice claim made by a man who was seen by several different healthcare providers over an 11-day period in 2008. During this time, the plaintiff was told that he had sinusitis and an ear infection, among other things. When the plaintiff’s primary care physician finally saw the plaintiff, he immediately recognized the signs and symptoms of a stroke. The plaintiff sued several doctors and medical clinics, seeking monetary compensation for injuries he allegedly sustained due to their negligence in failing to properly diagnose and treat his medical condition.

The trial court granted summary judgment to the defendants, and the plaintiff appealed.

The Holding of the Reviewing Court

The appeals court modified the lower tribunal’s order to grant summary judgment only to the plaintiff’s primary care doctor. The plaintiff’s only claim against this defendant was that he had gone on vacation without providing adequate medical care to the plaintiff in his absence. On appeal, the plaintiff conceded that this was not a viable claim for medical malpractice.

As to the remaining defendants, the reviewing court was not convinced by their argument that they had submitted expert medical witness affidavits proving that they did not deviate from the standard of care and/or that any alleged deviation was not the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. In so holding, the court noted that these affidavits were based on certain assumptions as to the plaintiff’s presenting symptoms, several of which were in dispute and, looking at the case in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, may have been “vastly different” from what the plaintiff allegedly reported to (at least some of) the defendants.

Contact a Syracuse Medical Malpractice Lawyer

No one should have to suffer needlessly because a trained medical professional failed to properly diagnose, monitor, or treat a patient’s medical condition. Still, it happens everyday. If you or a family member has been a victim of this type of medical negligence, the seasoned Syracuse medical malpractice lawyers at DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP will be glad to talk to you about the possibility of filing suit against the responsible physician or other healthcare professional. For a free consultation, call us at 315-479-9000 today.

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