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New York Court Discusses Involuntary Commitment as Grounds for a Medical Malpractice Claim

Typically, when a patient presents to a hospital with symptoms or complaints, he or she will consent to receive treatment from the attending physicians while retaining the right to leave if he or she chooses. In some instances, however, the hospital will take steps to admit a person without his or her consent, in an attempt to protect the person or others. In a recent hospital malpractice case, a New York court assessed when the involuntary commitment of an individual might constitute grounds for asserting a malpractice claim. If you suffered damages due to a hospital unjustly refusing to allow you to leave, you should meet with a skilled Rochester hospital malpractice attorney to analyze what claims you may be able to pursue.

Facts Regarding the Plaintiff’s Treatment

It is reported that the plaintiff visited the defendant hospital with complaints of high blood pressure. According to the facts set forth in the plaintiff’s complaint, after she arrived, she was restrained by security guards and administered medication. She was ultimately admitted against her will and detained for five days, during which she received medication for Parkinson’s disease and other ailments she did not have.

Allegedly, the plaintiff suffered substantial side effects due to the medications she received, which required her to obtain follow-up care. She subsequently filed a lawsuit against the defendant, arguing that it violated her rights and committed medical malpractice by falsely imprisoning her. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, which the trial court granted, resulting in the dismissal of the plaintiff’s claims. The plaintiff then appealed, but on appeal, the dismissal of her claims was affirmed.

Involuntary Commitment as Grounds for a Medical Malpractice Claim

In New York, an involuntary commitment of a patient pursuant to the Mental Hygiene Law is privileged unless a plaintiff can demonstrate medical malpractice. In other words, in order to prevail on both her false imprisonment claim and her medical malpractice claim, the plaintiff was required to establish that the defendant violated the applicable standard of what constitutes good accepted medical practice and that her harm directly arose out of that violation.

In the subject case, the court noted that the defendant set forth an expert affirmation from a psychiatrist that definitively stated that the defendant’s decision to commit the plaintiff against her will did not deviate from the accepted standard of care. Further, the expert opined that the treatment the plaintiff received after her admission complied with the standard of care as well. Thus, the defendant established entitlement to judgment in its favor as a matter of law. In return, the plaintiff failed to produce an expert affidavit or any evidence in support of her claim. As such, the appellate court found that the dismissal of her claims was warranted.

Confer with a Proficient  Rochester Attorney

If you visited a hospital with the hopes of being helped and were harmed instead, you may be able to recover damages for your losses and should confer with an attorney. The proficient Rochester hospital malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP Personal Injury Lawyers possess the skills and resources to help parties injured by incompetent medical care seek justice, and if you engage us, we will fight tirelessly on your behalf. We can be reached at 585-653-7343 or through the form online to set up a conference.

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