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New York Court Discusses Evidence Needed to Survive Summary Judgment in a Medical Malpractice Case

In most medical malpractice cases, whether the defendant or plaintiff is ultimately successful largely hinges on the credibility of their respective experts. Specifically, many plaintiff’s cases are dismissed prior to reaching trial because the plaintiff cannot produce sufficient evidence via expert testimony to establish that there is a dispute as to the defendant’s liability. In cases in which experts disagree, however, the decision of whether the defendant provider committed medical malpractice ultimately rests with the jury, as discussed in a recent urology case decided by a New York court. If you sustained harm due to incompetent care rendered by a urologist, it is advisable to speak with a skillful Rochester urology malpractice attorney to discuss what evidence you must set forth to establish liability.

Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff, who was suffering from prostate cancer, underwent a prostatectomy that was performed at the defendant hospital, by the defendant urologist. Following the removal of the plaintiff’s prostate, his urethra was reattached to the neck of his bladder, and a Foley catheter was placed to allow the urethra to heal and urine to drain. Three days after the plaintiff was discharged from the defendant hospital, he began to feel pain and reported to the emergency room. Upon examination, it was discovered by the defendant doctor that the plaintiff was retaining urine. The catheter was removed by the defendant nurse, and a new catheter was inserted. A CT scan was conducted that showed the catheter was in the bladder, and the plaintiff was again discharged.

Reportedly, the plaintiff had a follow-up appointment the next day, during which he reported continued pain. A second CT scan was ordered that revealed the plaintiff had a perforated rectum and that he had developed a fistula. He subsequently underwent an emergency laparotomy and loop colostomy. He then filed a lawsuit against the defendants, alleging medical malpractice. In turn, each of the defendants filed motions for summary judgment, assigning blame to the other defendants. The court granted the motions of the defendant urologist and the defendant hospital, after which the plaintiff appealed.

Surviving Summary Judgment in a Medical Malpractice Case

On appeal, the appellate court reversed the trial court ruling, finding that summary judgment was not appropriate. Specifically, the court found that the defendant hospital and defendant urologist made a prima facie showing that they did not depart from the accepted and good practice of medicine, or that the plaintiff did not suffer harm due to any alleged departure, as required to obtain a summary judgment under New York law. The court noted, however, that in response the plaintiff submitted expert reports that were sufficient to introduce a triable issue of fact. Thus, as the parties set forth conflicting expert reports, the court found that the issues must be decided by a jury.

Speak with a Trusted Rochester Attorney

If you suffered an injury or illness due to negligent care provided by a urologist it is in your best interest to speak with a trusted Rochester urology malpractice attorney regarding what damages you may be able to recover. The dedicated attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP Personal Injury Lawyers will work tirelessly to help you strive for the best outcome available under the facts of your case. You can reach us through our online form or at 585-653-7343 to set up a free and confidential meeting.

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