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New York Court Discusses Evidence of Medical Negligence in Malpractice Cases

A patient that suffers unexpected harm during surgery may be able to pursue claims against the doctor that performed the procedure. To prove the physician’s liability, the patient typically must show a deviation from the standard of care, but in cases in which it is obvious that harm was caused by negligence, the patient may not need to show the precise act that caused the injuries suffered. The grounds for determining whether a medical malpractice plaintiff’s evidence that a defendant acted negligently is sufficient to warrant a trial were discussed in a recent New York opinion in which the court denied the defendant orthopedic surgeon’s motion for summary judgment. If you were injured during orthopedic surgery, it is advisable to consult a capable Rochester orthopedic malpractice attorney to determine whether you may be owed damages.

The Plaintiff’s Harm

It is alleged that the defendant orthopedic surgeon performed a surgical revision of the plaintiff’s right knee. At some point during the procedure, the plaintiff suffered an injury to her distal sciatic nerve. As such, she filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant, alleging he negligently undertook his duties, causing her harm. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, which the court denied in part. The defendant then appealed.

Proving Liability in a Medical Malpractice Case

A plaintiff in a medical malpractice case must ultimately prove that the defendant departed from the accepted practice of medicine and that the departure caused the plaintiff to suffer an injury. A plaintiff that cannot pinpoint the precise act that constitutes a deviation from the standard can nonetheless recover damages in certain circumstances. Specifically, a plaintiff that can prove that the injury suffered usually does not occur absent negligence but must have been caused by an instrument within the control of the defendant, and not any negligence of the part of the plaintiff, may be awarded damages.

In the subject case, the court noted that the plaintiff was sedated at the time the harm occurred and could not, therefore, have contributed to her injury. Further, as the harm occurred during the operation, the instrument that caused the plaintiff’s injury was undoubtedly within the control of the defendant. Finally, despite the defendant’s arguments to the contrary, the evidence indicated that the injury suffered by the plaintiff was not a known consequence of the surgery, and therefore would not normally occur absent negligence. Thus, the appellate court affirmed the trial court’s ruling.

Meet with an Experienced Malpractice Attorney

While most orthopedic surgeries carry some chance of adverse effects, if a patient suffers an injury outside of the known risks, it may be due to orthopedic malpractice, and the patient may be owed damages. If you were hurt by an improperly performed procedure, it is advisable to speak with an attorney to assess your rights. The experienced Rochester medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP Personal Injury Lawyers can analyze the circumstances surrounding your harm and inform you of what compensation you may be able to recover. You can contact us at 585-653-7343 or via the online form to schedule a conference.

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