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New York Court Discusses Establishing Proximate Cause in a Failure to Diagnosis Case

In any New York medical malpractice case, the plaintiff must not only establish that the defendant breached the standard of care, but also that the breach proximately caused the plaintiff’s harm. Recently, in a case filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York in which the plaintiff alleged the defendant failed to diagnose the plaintiff’s decedent’s lung cancer for ten months, the court discussed what constitutes sufficient evidence to demonstrate that a delayed diagnosis caused a plaintiff’s damages. If you or someone you loved suffered harm due to a delayed diagnosis, it is in your best interest to consult a dedicated Rochester medical malpractice attorney regarding what damages you may be able to recover.

Facts Regarding the Plaintiff’s

It is alleged that the plaintiff’s decedent reported to the defendant hospital with complaints of chest pain. X-rays were taken and reviewed by the defendant physician, who noted abnormalities but took no further action. Ten months later, the defendant was admitted to the defendant hospital with complaints of weight loss, difficulty breathing, and a sore throat. Additional diagnostic tests were conducted, and the decedent was diagnosed with lung cancer. He ultimately succumbed to his illness, and the plaintiff filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendants under the Federal Tort Claims Act, arguing the failure to diagnose the decedent resulted in harm. The defendants conceded that they owed a duty to the decedent and that they breached the duty by failing to diagnose the decedent’s lung cancer for ten months, but denied that it was the cause of plaintiff’s death. A bench trial was held, after which the court found in favor of the plaintiff.

Proving Proximate Cause in a Failure to Diagnose Case

To prove proximate causation, a plaintiff must show that the defendant’s departure from the standard of care substantially contributed to the plaintiff’s injuries. In cases in which the plaintiff alleges that the defendant departed from the standard of care by delaying in diagnosing a patient may establish proximate cause by showing that the defendant diminished the patient’s chance of a better outcome, or that the defendant increased the patient’s injury.

In other words, if a plaintiff alleges a healthcare provider decreased his or her chances of survival or cure, as long as the jury can infer that it was likely that the patient experienced some decrease in the chance of cure or survival, it is legally sufficient evidence of causation. In the subject case, the plaintiff provided expert testimony that the plaintiff’s cancer was likely Stage I when he first visited the defendant hospital. As such, the court ruled that the plaintiff presented sufficient evidence to show that the defendant proximately caused the decedent’s harm.

Confer with a Trusted Malpractice Attorney

If you or a loved one sustained injuries due to a negligent doctor’s failure to provide a proper diagnose in a timely manner, it is prudent to confer with a trusted failure to diagnose attorney to discuss whether you may have a viable claim for damages. The assertive Rochester medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP Personal Injury Lawyers have the skills and experience needed to help you seek a favorable outcome, and we will work tirelessly on your behalf. We can be reached via our online form or at 585-653-7343 to schedule a confidential and free meeting.

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