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Court Discusses Sufficiency of an Expert Affidavit in a Medical Malpractice Case in New York

In many instances in which a patient is harmed by negligent medical care, more than one care provider will have provided the patient with inadequate treatment. Thus, it is not uncommon for multiple defendants that practice in different specialties to be named in a medical malpractice lawsuit. While the parties in a medical malpractice case generally need to retain medical experts to testify regarding the standard of care, one expert usually cannot offer an opinion as to multiple specialties. This was demonstrated in a recent New York case in which a mother and child both suffered injuries during the child’s birth. If you or your child sustained an injury during childbirth, it is advisable to consult an experienced Rochester birth injury attorney to discuss what evidence you must introduce to prove liability.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff mother was treated by the defendant gynecologist, who induced labor when the plaintiff was thirty-nine weeks pregnant. During the birth, the plaintiff mother and the plaintiff infant suffered unspecified injuries. Thus, the plaintiffs filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant gynecologist, as well as the hospital, anesthesiologist, and pediatrician, and orthopedic surgeon that participated in delivering the plaintiff infant and caring for both plaintiffs after the birth. The defendants moved to have the case dismissed via summary judgment, arguing they did not breach their respective standards of care. The trial court granted the motion, and the plaintiff appealed.

Sufficiency of an Expert Affidavit in a Medical Malpractice Case in New York

On appeal, the plaintiff argued in part that the defendant’s expert affidavit regarding the care provided by the anesthesiologist, pediatrician, and orthopedic surgeon lacked probative value. The appellate court agreed and reversed the trial court’s order to the extent it dismissed those defendants. Specifically, the court noted that it was true that under New York law, an expert does not have to be a specialist in a certain field in order to be able to testify competently regarding the accepted practices in that field.

The court clarified, however, that an expert must nonetheless possess the required training, skills, education, experience, or knowledge from which a person could assume the opinion set forth by the expert is reliable. Thus, when a physician offers an opinion outside of his or her specialty, he or she must lay a foundation to support the position that his or her testimony is sound.

Here, the defendants’ expert was well versed in the standards that applied to obstetricians and gynecologists, as he had participated in thousands of births. There was no evidence produced to suggest he had any knowledge or skills in the other areas of medicine on which he opined, however. Thus, the appellate court found that his opinion was of no merit as to the non-gynecologist defendants’ standard of care.

Meet with a Trusted Rochester Attorney

If you or your child sustained injuries during childbirth, you may be able to recover damages and should speak to an attorney as soon as possible. The trusted Rochester birth injury attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP Personal Injury Lawyers are dedicated to helping parties harmed by incompetent medical care in the pursuit of damages, and if we represent you, we will work tirelessly on your behalf. We can be reached by calling 585-653-7343 our through or online form to schedule a conference.

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