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New York Court Discusses Conflicting Expert Reports in Medical Malpractice Cases

Doctors working in numerous specialties tend to people in hospital emergency rooms, offering treatment options based on their assessment of a patient’s concerns. If an emergency room doctor makes the wrong call, appropriate care may be delayed or not administered at all, which can result in significant complications. In such instances, the doctor may be liable for medical malpractice. In many medical malpractice cases arising out of emergency room care, whether the defendant is deemed liable hinges on the credibility of the parties’ experts, as discussed in a recent New York ruling. If you were hurt due to an emergency room physician’s recklessness, it is important to understand your rights, and you should talk to a Rochester medical malpractice attorney.

History of the Case

It is alleged that the decedent presented to the emergency department of a hospital complaining of right ankle pain and numbness. A podiatric resident, along with the defendant, the on-call orthopedic surgeon, assessed the decedent. Approximately two weeks later, the decedent was admitted to the hospital and ultimately underwent a below-the-knee amputation of his right leg due to acute/subacute ischemia.

Reportedly, the decedent and his wife initiated a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant, among others, alleging that he deviated from the standard of care by failing to conduct a proper orthopedic assessment of the decedent. The defendant moved for summary judgment, but the trial court denied his motion. The defendant subsequently filed an appeal.

Conflicting Expert Reports in Medical Malpractice Cases

On appeal, the court explained the legal standards for medical malpractice claims, noting that the defendant physician must establish the absence of departure from accepted community standards of practice or show that any departure did not proximately cause the plaintiff’s injuries.

If the defendant meets this burden, the plaintiff must then raise a triable issue of fact to rebut the defendant’s prima facie case. In the subject case, the court explained that the defendant presented expert testimony asserting that he did not depart from accepted standards of medical care and that any alleged departure was not a proximate cause of the decedent’s injuries.

In response, however, the plaintiffs produced an expert affidavit countering the defendant’s claim. Specifically, the plaintiff’s expert raised questions about whether the defendant departed from good medical practice and whether such departures caused the decedent’s injuries.

The court noted that in medical malpractice cases in which the parties produce conflicting expert opinions, fault comes down to credibility, which is an issue that must be resolved by a jury. As the parties’ expert affidavits in this case set forth opposite opinions, the court found that summary judgment was not appropriate. Consequently, the court affirmed the trial court’s decision to deny the defendant’s motion.

Speak to a Capable Rochester Medical Malpractice Lawyer

People visiting emergency rooms often have critical issues that require immediate, appropriate care, but sadly, the care offered is often inadequate. If you were injured due to the negligence of a doctor in an emergency room, you may be able to recover damages in a medical malpractice case, and it is wise to speak to an attorney. The capable Rochester medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers can examine the facts of your case and gather the evidence needed to provide you with a strong chance of a favorable result. You can reach us by calling 833-200-2000 or using our form online to arrange a conference.

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