Medical doctors are held to a specific standard of care, and if they depart from the standard, they can be held accountable for injuries or illnesses caused by their incompetence. It is axiomatic, however, that they may only be deemed liable for medical malpractice if their negligent acts harm a person in the context of a doctor-patient relationship. In a recent case in which the plaintiff sued several neurosurgeons after he became paralyzed, a New York court explained what level of interaction is sufficient to establish a treating relationship. If you suffered nerve damage or other injuries because of a doctor’s careless acts, you should consult a dedicated Rochester neurosurgery malpractice attorney regarding your possible claims.
The Plaintiff’s Treatment
It is alleged that the plaintiff, who worked as a deckhand on a boat, was moving heavy equipment when he felt a pop in his neck. He was helped off the boat and taken to a medical facility, after which he was transported to the defendant hospital for an evaluation. He was assessed by a doctor in the emergency room, who then called the on-call neurologist and the on-call neurosurgeon, who advised that the plaintiff should be transferred to another hospital to undergo surgery.
Reportedly, the plaintiff was transferred and eventually underwent surgery to decompress his spinal cord, but he was nonetheless paralyzed. He then filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against numerous providers that treated him in connection with his injury, including the neurosurgeon. The neurosurgeon filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that he did not have a doctor-patient relationship with the plaintiff and therefore, could not be held liable. The court disagreed and denied his motion.