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Court Discusses Physicians’ Duties In Medical Malpractice Cases in New York

Under New York law, a plaintiff alleging medical malpractice must establish that a treating medical provider breached a duty the provider owed the plaintiff. Specifically, the plaintiff must show that the medical provider deviated from accepted medical practice. In other words, a provider cannot be held liable for medical malpractice for failing to undertake acts not required by the standard of care. This was discussed in a recent case decided by a New York appellate court, in which the plaintiff alleged a physician that treated him during an involuntary confinement committed malpractice by failing to review his criminal history.  If you suffered harm due to negligent medical care, it is prudent to seek the advice of a skillful Rochester medical malpractice attorney regarding whether you may have a viable claim.

Factual Background of the Case

It is alleged that in 1983 the plaintiff was indicted for multiple crimes, including burglary and sodomizing a child. He pleaded guilty to the burglary charge and was sentenced to eight to sixteen years imprisonment. He served thirteen years in prison, and during his imprisonment was admitted to a psychiatric hospital numerous times. Following his release from prison, he was retained in a state mental health facility for six years. After his eventual release, he filed multiple claims against the State, including medical malpractice.

Reportedly, the basis of the plaintiff’s medical malpractice claim was the assertion that his treatment arose out of the belief that he plead guilty to sodomy, even though he did not. He further alleged that the treatment he received based on this mistaken belief caused him to suffer anxiety and denied him certain privileges. The court entered a judgment in favor of the defendant following a trial. The plaintiff then appealed.

Duties Imposed on a Treating Physician

The salient issue on appeal was whether the State office of mental health committed medical malpractice by failing to determine whether the plaintiff pleaded guilty to sodomy. The court noted that for a plaintiff to establish liability on a theory of medical malpractice, he or she must prove that the defendant care provider deviated from the accepted standards of practice of his or her medical community and that the deviation proximately caused the plaintiff’s harm. The court further explained that although doctors owe a general duty of care to their patients, the duty is limited to medical functions undertaken by the doctor and relied on by the patient.

In the subject case, the court stated that the treating physician made medical judgments regarding when to increase the plaintiff’s privileges and that if the physician committed any error in making those judgments, it did not rise to the level of medical malpractice. Thus, the court affirmed the trial court’s judgment.

Meet with a Trusted Rochester Malpractice Attorney

If you suffered damages due to inappropriate care provided by a psychiatrist or any other physician, it is in your best interest to meet with a trusted medical malpractice attorney regarding your potential claims.  At DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP Personal Injury Lawyers, our experienced attorneys will gather any evidence in your favor to help you in your pursuit of a successful outcome. We can be contacted at 585-653-7343 or through the form online to set up a confidential and free meeting.

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