Lawsuits require that an injured person identify who they think is responsible for their injuries. This may seem obvious, but it’s often difficult to determine which parties shoulder the responsibility for an alleged injury. This issue is often present in medical malpractice lawsuits. Often, multiple medical professionals will perform surgery, those professionals are employed in various medical groups, and the surgery occurs within a regulated hospital. Moreover, as a recent New York surgical error case discussed, a manufacturer of medical products and devices may also be implicated in a medical negligence lawsuit.In a recent case, the plaintiff filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against his plastic surgeon, the plastic surgery surgical group, and the manufacturer of a facial filler product. The court focused on the cause of action as directed toward the medical product manufacturer. Unlike most medical negligence claims in New York, claims against a medical product manufacturer require the establishment of a different theory of liability. Specifically, a party injured as a result of a defective medical product may seek damages against the manufacturer based on theories of a breach of a promise, express or implied, negligence, or strict product liability, including a failure to warn users of dangers. However, under New York law, the manufacturer only owes a duty to warn the physician, rather than the patient, of the product’s risks. The manufacturer does not have a duty to warn a patient of risks associated with its product. It instead discharges its duty by providing sufficient information to the physician.
The plaintiff’s lawsuit alleged that the product’s pharmaceutical representatives were responsible for providing instructions to the physicians on how to use the facial filler product. The plaintiff alleged that the pharmaceutical reps were present on one or more occasions when the physicians were treating the plaintiff. His complaint asserted that the pharmaceutical reps had a duty to assert that the product was used and administered in a safe manner, in accordance with regulatory guidelines.
The court was not convinced by the plaintiff’s argument. Instead, the court recited New York law and reasoned that although the manufacturer has a duty to warn a patient’s physician of the risks associated with the product, the manufacturer is not responsible for the way the physician uses the device and renders medical care. The court ordered that all of the claims against the manufacturer be dismissed.