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New York Court Discusses Evidence Sufficient to Sustain a Lack of Informed Consent Claim

There are side effects associated with many medical treatments for health concerns. Usually, a doctor will inform a patient of the potential risks of a course of care and advise whether the benefits outweigh the possible harm. If a physician fails to fully educate a plaintiff on the possible consequences of a procedure prior to performing it, and the patient subsequently suffers injuries, the doctor may be liable for failing to obtain the patient’s informed consent. In a recent New York ruling in a case arising out of dermatological malpractice, a court explained the evidence needed to allow a lack of informed consent claim to proceed to trial. If you sustained harm due to a negligent dermatologist, you should speak to a trusted Rochester dermatology malpractice attorney to assess your options.

The Plaintiff’s Care

It is alleged that the plaintiff visited the defendant dermatologist, complaining of a lump on the back of her neck. The defendant diagnosed the lump as a cyst and scheduled the plaintiff for a procedure to remove it. The lump resolved prior to the plaintiff’s appointment, but the defendant advised the plaintiff that she should undergo the procedure regardless. The defendant excised what he believed to be a cyst but was, in fact, a lymph node, causing the plaintiff to suffer pain and nerve damage. The plaintiff then filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant, setting forth, among other things, a claim of lack of informed consent. The defendant moved for summary judgment, but the court denied his motion, after which he appealed.

Proving Liability for Lack of Informed Consent

After reviewing the evidence, the appellate court affirmed the trial court ruling. As to the informed consent claim, the court noted that under New York law, the fact that the plaintiff signed a generic form indicating her consent was insufficient grounds to entitle the defendant to judgment as a matter of law. Additionally, the defendant’s expert affirmation failed to opine that the consent form was in compliance with the applicable standard for such disclosures for reasonable dermatologists performing similar types of procedures.

The appellate court further noted that the defendant’s expert affirmation did not allege that a person of reasonable prudence, in the same position as the plaintiff, would not have opted not to undergo the procedure if she or he had been fully apprised of the potential risks. Finally, the appellate court explained that the evidence presented by the defendant demonstrated disputed issues of fact as to whether the defendant informed the plaintiff about the procedure and its alternatives or of the foreseeable risks and benefits of the treatment. Thus, the trial court ruling was affirmed.

Speak to a Trusted Malpractice Attorney

Dermatologists, like all doctors, have a duty to advise their patients of the potential adverse effects of a procedure, and if they do not, it may constitute dermatology malpractice. If you suffered harm due to a dermatologist’s negligent failure to obtain your informed consent, you should speak to a lawyer regarding your rights. The trusted medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP Personal Injury Lawyers are adept at handling claims against careless healthcare providers, and if we represent you, we will fight tirelessly on your behalf. You can reach us at 585-653-7343 or through our form online to set up a meeting.

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