Successful surgical procedures require an entire team of medical professionals and staff. In addition to nurses and technicians, the surgeon may also rely on the assistance of a medical resident who is training to become a surgeon. Along with inexperience comes the increased likelihood that the resident might make mistakes, even under the supervision of a trained surgeon. It’s possible to seek liability against a medical resident, but New York medical malpractice law makes it difficult. In fact, here is a recent decision that considered whether the assisting resident could be held liable for alleged malpractice.
The plaintiff filed a lawsuit to recover damages for medical malpractice. The complaint alleged that the plaintiff underwent a laparoscopy with a lysis of adhesions procedure and a subsequent exploratory laparotomy performed later that day. The procedure was performed by the defendant obstetrician/gynecologist, along with the assistance of a resident at the defendant hospital. In addition, another defendant acted as the anesthesiologist for the procedure. The plaintiff alleged that during the procedure, the obstetrician/gynecologist and the resident cut the uterine wall and failed to recognize and treat the resulting intra-abdominal bleeding, and the anesthesiologist allegedly administered the wrong form of pain medication for the internal bleeding. After the defendants filed for summary judgment, the trial court ruled in their favor. The plaintiff appealed the trial court’s decision on summary judgment.
On appeal, the court considered the liability of a resident. New York law, as stated in Soto v. Andaz, 8 AD 3d 470 – NY: Appellate Div., 2nd Dept. 2004, provides that a resident who assists a doctor during a medical procedure, and who does not exercise any independent medical judgment, cannot be held liable for malpractice as long as the doctor’s directions did not so greatly deviate from normal practice that the resident should be held liable for failing to intervene.
The appeals court reasoned that the evidence showed that the plaintiff’s physician controlled the surgery, directed and supervised all of the actions of the assisting resident, and oversaw the injured plaintiff’s pre- and post-operative care, and that the assisting resident committed no act that departed from accepted medical practice. Therefore, the appeals court concluded that she was under the attending physician’s direct supervision at all times and did not exercise any independent medical judgment with respect to the injured plaintiff’s care and treatment, and the physician’s directions did not so greatly deviate from normal practice that the assisting resident should be held liable for failing to intervene. The appeals court ultimately affirmed the trial court’s ruling and dismissed the claims against the resident.
If you have undergone surgery involving a medical resident who deviated from normal practice, you might be entitled to compensation for your injuries caused by medical malpractice. The Rochester attorneys at DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers are experienced medical malpractice lawyers and have a strong record of reaching settlements and verdicts for people injured by the negligence of medical professionals. Call us today for a free initial consultation.
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