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Court Discusses Shifting Burden of Proof in NY Hospital Malpractice Case

In any case alleging hospital malpractice, the burden of proof as to whether the defendant deviated from the standard of care and thereby caused the plaintiff harm shifts from the plaintiff to the defendant and then back to the plaintiff. Recently, a New York appellate court discussed the evidence each party must produce at each step of a hospital malpractice lawsuit, in a case in which the court ultimately held that the plaintiff’s complaint was wrongfully dismissed.   If you or a loved one were injured by hospital malpractice it is critical to retain a skilled Rochester hospital malpractice attorney to assist you in proving that the hospital that caused your harm should be held accountable for your damages.

Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff’s decedent underwent a surgical procedure in 2009, in which an arteriovenous fistula was created in the decedent’s left arm to be used as an access site for dialysis treatments. Approximately one year later, a nurse noticed that the fistula appeared infected during a dialysis treatment, and the attending nephrologist directed that the decedent be transferred to the defendant hospital’s emergency room for evaluation. The decedent was evaluated by a doctor at the defendant hospital and released and cleared for dialysis. Subsequently, the decedent underwent two additional dialysis treatments without incident.

Reportedly, the day after the last treatment, the decedent was found unconscious. He died on the way to the hospital, due to the rupture of the fistula. The plaintiff then filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant hospital, alleging the defendant deviated from the accepted standard of care by not removing the fistula and continuing to use it as an access site for dialysis. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, which the trial court granted. The plaintiff appealed.

Evidence Needed to Withstand Summary Judgment

In any New York case alleging hospital malpractice, the plaintiff must first show that the hospital deviated from the accepted standard of care and that the deviation caused the alleged harm. In turn, the defendant must establish either that it did not deviate from the standard of care or that any deviation was not the proximate cause of the harm alleged. If the defendant successfully sets forth a prima facie case, summary judgment is proper unless the plaintiff can prove there are triable issues of material fact that necessitate resolution by a fact finder.

In the subject case, the defendant hospital set forth expert affirmations showing that there was no departure from the standard of care and that any such departure did not cause the plaintiff’s decedent’s harm. In opposition, however, the plaintiff raised an issue of fact through her expert affirmations, as to whether the continued use of the fistula as an access site departed from the standard of care. Thus, the appellate court ruled that the trial court erred in granting the defendant’s motion for summary judgment.

Meet with a Skilled Hospital Malpractice Attorney to Discuss Your Case

If you were injured due to hospital malpractice it is essential to meet with a skilled  Rochester hospital malpractice attorney regarding the facts of your case and your options for seeking compensation for your harm. The experienced Rochester hospital malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers will work diligently to gather the evidence needed to help you set forth a strong case in favor of your recovery of compensation. We can be contacted through the online form or at 833-200-2000 to set up a consultation to discuss your case.


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