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Court Explains Causation in New York Medical Malpractice Cases

Generally, a plaintiff in a medical malpractice case must prove not only that the defendant was negligent but also that the defendant’s actions caused the plaintiff’s harm. In other words, simply demonstrating that the defendant deviated from the applicable standard of care is not sufficient to present a successful malpractice case. This was illustrated by a recent New York ruling issued in a hospital malpractice case in which the plaintiff’s claims were dismissed due to her inability to prove causation. If you suffered losses due to inadequate care in a hospital setting, it is prudent to confer with a Rochester hospital malpractice lawyer to evaluate your options.

The Plaintiff’s Claims

Allegedly, the decedent visited a hospital with complaints of chest pain. He was admitted and discharged after three days, with the direction to visit an emergency department if his chest pain returned or worsened. Thirteen days later, he visited a second hospital with complaints of chest pain. He was evaluated by the defendant physician but the defendant did not order a cardiology consultation. The defendant decided to send the decedent home rather than admit him to the hospital. Approximately three weeks later, he suffered a cardiac arrest and died shortly thereafter.

It is reported that the plaintiff, the decedent’s wife, filed a malpractice lawsuit against the defendant, alleging that she was negligent in failing to order a cardiology consultation, and her negligence caused the decedent’s death. A jury ultimately found that while the defendant departed from the standard of care, her negligence was not the cause of the decedent’s death. The plaintiff appealed.

Establishing Causation in Medical Malpractice Cases

On appeal, the court declined to adopt the plaintiff’s reasoning that the verdict was against the weight of the evidence. The court noted that to show a prima facie case of liability in a medical malpractice case, a plaintiff must show that the defendant deviated from the accepted standard of care and that the departure caused the plaintiff’s injuries.

The court explained that a jury’s determination that a defendant was at fault but that such fault did not proximately cause the harm suffered is only inconsistent and against the weight of the evidence when the issues of negligence and causation are so inseparably intertwined that it is logically impossible to determine a party is negligent without also finding causation. Here, the court stated that the issues of proximate cause and negligence were not inseparably intertwined, and therefore, the jury could have reasonably concluded that the defendant did not cause the decedent’s harm. Thus, it affirmed the jury’s verdict.

Speak to a Trusted Rochester Medical Malpractice Lawyer

People often visit hospitals due to serious conditions that require immediate attention, and if they do not receive adequate care, the consequences can be devastating.  If you or a loved one sustained damages due to negligent treatment in a hospital, you may be able to pursue a hospital malpractice claim, and you should speak to an attorney about your rights. The trusted Rochester medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers can assess the circumstances surrounding your harm and help you to seek the full amount of compensation recoverable under the law. You can reach us through our online form or at 833-200-2000 to set up a meeting.


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