When people pass away due to treatable medical issues, their family members will often seek to hold someone accountable. Merely because a decedent treated for the medical concern that ultimately caused their death does not necessarily mean their treatment provided committed medical malpractice, however. This was demonstrated in a recent New York opinion in which the court discharged the plaintiff’s medical malpractice claims against a pulmonologist, finding that he did not owe the decedent any duty. If you were injured or lost a loved one due to the carelessness of a pulmonologist, it is smart to meet with a Rochester pulmonologist malpractice lawyer to discuss your potential claims.
The Decedent’s Care
It is reported that the decedent suffered from asthma that was managed by a pediatrician that treated her since she was a teenager. When she was 42, she underwent bariatric surgery. Prior to the procedure, she was evaluated by the defendant pulmonologist for pulmonary clearance. He ultimately concluded that she had a mild to moderate risk for surgery and prescribe medication to improve her pulmonary function in the pre-operative and post-operative periods. He also forwarded his findings to her bariatric doctor.
Allegedly, the decedent underwent surgery without issue and continued to treat her asthma with the pediatrician. She subsequently passed away at 43 due to an asthma attack. The plaintiff then filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant, alleging that his failure to inform the pediatrician of the severity of the decedent’s asthma led to her death. The defendant moved for summary judgment, and the court granted his motion. The plaintiff appealed.
Duties of Medical Professionals
On appeal, the appellate court affirmed the trial court ruling. The court explained that in order to demonstrate a health care provider’s liability for medical malpractice, a plaintiff must show that the provider departed from the accepted practice of medicine within the relevant community and that the deviation caused the harm suffered.
Prior to evaluating whether the defendant breached the accepted standard of practice, though, the court must assess whether the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty. The appellate court noted that while doctors owe their patients a general duty of care, the duty may be limited to those medical functions that are undertaken by the patient and relied on by the defendant. In the subject case, the appellate court found that the trial court properly determined that the defendant did not owe a duty to the plaintiff beyond assessing her pulmonary function with regard to the bariatric surgery. Thus, the court affirmed the dismissal of the plaintiff’s claims.
Speak to a Trusted Rochester Attorney
Doctors have an obligation to provide their patients with competent care, but their duties typically do not extend past the functions they undertake. If you suffered harm or lost a family member due to pulmonologist malpractice, you may be owed compensation, and you should speak to an attorney. The trusted Rochester medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers are adept at proving negligent care providers should be held accountable, and if you hire us, we will advocate zealously on your behalf. You can contact us through the online form or by calling us at 585-653-7343 to set up a meeting.