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New York Court Discusses a Defendant’s Privilege from Disclosure in Medical Malpractice Cases

In New York, a defendant in a medical malpractice case is protected from having to disclose certain documents by education and public health laws. There are exemptions to the general rule, however that permit a plaintiff to obtain statements pertaining to the alleged malpractice. The appellate division of the Supreme Court of New York recently addressed when the exceptions apply in a pediatric malpractice case. If your child suffered injuries because of inappropriate pediatric care, it is vital to consult a skillful Rochester pediatric malpractice attorney to discuss what compensation you may be able to recover.

Facts of the Case

Reportedly, the plaintiff’s infant son was transported from a medical center to a nearby hospital where he was placed on a ventilator. The child subsequently developed pneumothoraxes in both lungs, which ultimately caused him to suffer a severe brain injury. The plaintiff filed a pediatric malpractice lawsuit against both the medical center and the hospital. During the discovery phase of the case, the plaintiff requested that the defendant hospital produce any and all documents pertaining to the evaluation of the child’s treatment on the date of the alleged harm. The hospital objected to the request on the grounds that any responsive documents would have been created as part of the hospital’s quality assurance program, which were privileged and exempt from disclosure pursuant to New York’s Education Law and Public Health Law.

It is alleged that the plaintiff then filed a motion to compel the responsive documents, arguing that statutory exceptions to the privilege allowed her to obtain statements made throughout the quality assurance process by a doctor or other health care provider named as a defendant regarding the facts and circumstances of the treatment from which the malpractice claim arose. The trial court granted the plaintiff’s motion, after which the defendant hospital sought intervention from the appellate court.

Exceptions to the Statutory Privileges of Medical Malpractice Defendants

Upon review, the court held that the trial court erred in ordering the defendants to produce statements made during the quality assurance process. The court stated that the New York education law explicitly protects records and proceedings from a quality assurance review or a medical malpractice prevention program from disclosure. While there are exceptions to the privilege, they are to be construed narrowly, and are limited to statements that were made during a quality assurance review meeting by a person who is a party to the case.

In the subject case, the court found that the statements sought by the plaintiff were made shortly after the incident but were not made during a quality assurance review meeting or in response to any inquiries by a review board. Thus, the court found that the requested statements did not fall within the exception and reversed the trial court’s order.

Speak with an Experienced Rochester Pediatric Malpractice Attorney Regarding Your Child’s Harm

If your child was harmed by the negligence of a physician you trusted to provide appropriate care you and your child may be entitled to damages and you should speak with an experienced Rochester pediatric malpractice attorney regarding your case. The capable pediatric malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP Personal Injury Lawyers are sensitive to how devastating it can be to know that your child’s health was diminished by inadequate medical care and will zealously pursue the full amount of compensation you may be owed. We can be reached at 585-653-7343 or through or online form to schedule a consultation regarding your potential claims.

 

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