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Articles Posted in Ophthalmology malpractice

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In many instances, determining who may be liable for harm caused by negligent medical care may be unexpectedly complicated. For example, even if multiple physicians improperly perform a surgical procedure in a hospital, whether each physician or the hospital may be held liable depends on numerous factors. This was discussed in a recent New York ophthalmology malpractice case, in which the court determined that neither a resident that took part in a negligently performed surgery nor the hospital where it was performed could be held liable for the plaintiff’s alleged harm. If you were injured by negligent care provided by an ophthalmologist, it is in your best interest to speak with a vigilant Rochester ophthalmology malpractice attorney regarding who may be liable for your harm.

History of the Case

Allegedly, the plaintiff treated at the defendant hospital in June 2013, where he underwent a surgical procedure to remove cataracts. The surgery was performed by the defendant attending physician, with the assistance of the defendant resident. The plaintiff ultimately filed a medical malpractice lawsuit, alleging the surgery was improperly performed, resulting in an occlusion of his central retinal vein. The defendant hospital and defendant resident filed motions for summary judgment, which the court granted. The plaintiff appealed.

Liability of Residents and Hospitals for Medical Errors

Under New York law, a resident who does not exercise independent medical judgment but merely assists a doctor during a procedure, cannot be held liable for any medical malpractice that occurs during the procedure. There is an exception, however, for cases in which the doctor’s guidance so drastically departed from normal practice that the resident should be held accountable for failing to intervene. In the subject case, the court noted that both the testimony of the parties and the medical records established that the defendant physician had complete control over the diagnosis of the plaintiff and the surgery, including the surgical approach. Further, the defendants demonstrated that the defendant physician did not so greatly depart from the standard of care so as to require the defendant resident to intervene.

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Some people who suffer injuries due to medical malpractice are reluctant to retain an attorney for numerous reasons and will attempt to proceed through the litigation process on their own. Medical malpractice cases are complicated, however, and require adept handling that is beyond the capacity of most individuals. Recently, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York highlighted the risks associated with filing a medical malpractice lawsuit without an attorney when it dismissed a complaint in which a pro se plaintiff alleged ophthalmologic malpractice. If you sustained injuries because of an incompetent ophthalmologist, it is in your best interest to retain an experienced Rochester ophthalmology malpractice attorney to assist you in pursuing damages.

Factual and Procedural Background

It is reported that the plaintiff brought a pro se action against multiple defendants, alleging numerous claims. The facts contained in the plaintiff’s complaint were sparse but included the allegation that his eyesight was destroyed by the defendant medical practitioners. The court found that the complaint failed to comply with the pleading requirements of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, but granted the plaintiff leave to file an amended complaint.

Sufficiency of a Medical Malpractice Complaint Under Federal Law

While the courts grant pro se parties a fair amount of leeway, any pro se pleading must nonetheless comply with the standards established by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Specifically, a complaint must set forth a short and direct statement of the plaintiff’s claim that shows the plaintiff should be granted relief. Thus, a complaint is not required to contain unnecessary details or to be lengthy. Additionally, a plaintiff cannot pursue claims that bear no relation to each other against numerous parties in one action. Further, although courts liberally construe pro se pleadings, they are not required to wade through a sea of papers produced by a plaintiff to determine if the plaintiff asserts a cognizable claim.

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