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New York Court Discusses Evaluating Emergency Room Malpractice Claims

When people visit the emergency room of a hospital, it is typically because of what they perceive to be an acute medical condition. Emergency room doctors are trained to differentiate between issues that require immediate treatment and nonemergent concerns, but if they make errors in judgment, it can result in grave harm. The standard for evaluating emergency medical care was the topic of a recent New York opinion, in which the court overturned the dismissal of the plaintiff’s claims. If you or a loved one suffered harm because of negligent care in an emergency room, you should contact a Rochester emergency room malpractice attorney regarding your options.

The Decedent’s Care

Allegedly, the plaintiff’s decedent went to the emergency department of the defendant hospital with complaints of a headache and other symptoms. He was evaluated and dismissed. Five days later, he suddenly died due to a subarachnoid hemorrhage. The plaintiff filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant hospital and emergency room doctors, arguing that their negligent care led to the decedent’s death. After discovery was completed, the defendants moved to have the plaintiff’s claims dismissed through summary judgment. The court granted the defendants’ motion, and the plaintiff appealed.

Evaluating Emergency Room Malpractice Claims

The court explained that it is clearly established under New York law that a plaintiff seeking to prove the liability of a doctor for emergency room malpractice must show that the doctor departed from the standard of care for emergency room doctors that is accepted in the community and that the deviation proximately caused the harm alleged. In turn, a defendant seeking summary judgment must show either that there was no departure from the standard or that any deviation did not cause the plaintiff’s injuries.

If a defendant meets this burden, the plaintiff must then submit evidentiary proof or materials to defeat the defendant’s assertions. In the subject case, the court explained that the defendants met their burden of proof via the submission of expert affidavits stating they complied with the standard of care. In turn, however, the plaintiff provided an affirmation of an expert in emergency medicine that opined that the defendants neglected to abide by the standard of care due to the failure to administer certain drugs and perform specific tests on the plaintiff’s decedent when he visited the emergency room. The report went on to state that these failures caused the decedent’s death. Thus, the court explained that as there were conflicting expert opinions, summary judgment was not appropriate and reversed the trial court ruling.

Speak to a Trusted Malpractice Attorney

Emergency room physicians are expected to identify and treat critical issues, and when they carelessly disregard concerning symptoms, they should be held liable for any harm that ensues. If you suffered the loss of a loved one because of emergency room malpractice, you could be owed significant damages, and you should talk to a lawyer. The trusted medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP Personal Injury Lawyers are proficient at fighting to hold negligent care providers accountable, and if we represent you, we will advocate assertively in your favor. You can reach us at 585-653-7343 or via our form online to set up a conference.

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