A patient that suffers unexpected harm during surgery may be able to pursue claims against the doctor that performed the procedure. To prove the physician’s liability, the patient typically must show a deviation from the standard of care, but in cases in which it is obvious that harm was caused by negligence, the patient may not need to show the precise act that caused the injuries suffered. The grounds for determining whether a medical malpractice plaintiff’s evidence that a defendant acted negligently is sufficient to warrant a trial were discussed in a recent New York opinion in which the court denied the defendant orthopedic surgeon’s motion for summary judgment. If you were injured during orthopedic surgery, it is advisable to consult a capable Rochester orthopedic malpractice attorney to determine whether you may be owed damages.
The Plaintiff’s Harm
It is alleged that the defendant orthopedic surgeon performed a surgical revision of the plaintiff’s right knee. At some point during the procedure, the plaintiff suffered an injury to her distal sciatic nerve. As such, she filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant, alleging he negligently undertook his duties, causing her harm. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, which the court denied in part. The defendant then appealed.
Proving Liability in a Medical Malpractice Case
A plaintiff in a medical malpractice case must ultimately prove that the defendant departed from the accepted practice of medicine and that the departure caused the plaintiff to suffer an injury. A plaintiff that cannot pinpoint the precise act that constitutes a deviation from the standard can nonetheless recover damages in certain circumstances. Specifically, a plaintiff that can prove that the injury suffered usually does not occur absent negligence but must have been caused by an instrument within the control of the defendant, and not any negligence of the part of the plaintiff, may be awarded damages.