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New York Court Discusses Medical Malpractice Cases with Conflicting Evidence

It is not uncommon for an expectant mother to receive care from one physician during her pregnancy and for another doctor to deliver her baby. If errors arise during the birthing process, then it may not immediately be clear who is liable. As demonstrated in a recent New York opinion delivered in a birth injury case, if there is conflicting evidence regarding a doctor’s involvement during delivery, the matter may need to proceed to trial. If you or your child sustained injuries due to inadequate treatment, it is wise to speak to a Rochester medical malpractice lawyer about your options.

History of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff mother had been receiving prenatal care from the defendant ob-gyn, a doctor associated with the defendant ob-gyn practice who had admitting privileges at the defendant hospital. The plaintiff mother presented to the defendant hospital with concerns about decreased fetal movement. She was admitted, and labor was induced; the labor progressed, but complications arose, including reported instances of bleeding and non-reassuring fetal heart rate.

It is reported that contrary to certain hospital records indicating the defendant ob-gyn’s involvement, they weren’t physically present during the plaintiff mother’s admission. The infant was born with severe health issues, including hypoxic encephalopathy and sepsis, and despite medical intervention, she passed away five days later. The plaintiff mother then brought a medical malpractice suit against the defendants. Defendants moved for summary judgment, which the plaintiff mother opposed.

Summary Judgment in Medical Malpractice Cases with Conflicting Evidence

Ultimately, the court denied the defendants’ motions for summary judgment as to the medical malpractice claims. In its assessment, the court explained that in medical malpractice cases, the court must determine whether there was a deviation from accepted medical standards and whether that deviation proximately caused the plaintiff’s injuries. The burden initially falls on the defendant to demonstrate the absence of departure from good medical practice or that the plaintiff was not injured thereby. In response, the plaintiff must establish a triable issue of fact regarding the elements on which the defendant has met their initial burden.

In the subject case, the court examined the evidence presented by both parties, including expert affirmations, hospital records, deposition transcripts, and testimony from the plaintiff and medical personnel involved, and found that there were conflicting accounts as to what transpired.

For instance, the defendants argued that the defendant ob-gyn was not physically present during the plaintiff mother’s labor and delivery. However, hospital records indicating the defendant ob-gyn’s involvement and the plaintiff mother’s testimony raised questions about the defendant ob-gyn’s role in directing the plaintiff mother’s treatment. The court found that these discrepancies created issues of fact that needed to be resolved by a jury.

Regarding the hospital’s liability, the court considered whether the hospital staff’s actions constituted independent negligence or if they merely followed the orders of the attending physicians. The plaintiffs alleged that the hospital failed to adequately document or respond to the plaintiff mother’s complaints of vaginal bleeding, which could have indicated a serious condition requiring immediate intervention. The court found that these allegations raised issues of fact as to whether the hospital staff’s actions constituted independent negligence. Based on the foregoing, the court denied the defendants’ motion.

Talk to a Dedicated Rochester Medical Malpractice Lawyer

The loss of an infant is devastating under any circumstances, and when it is caused by the carelessness of healthcare providers, it may constitute medical malpractice. If you lost a child due to inadequate medical care, you should speak to an attorney about your rights as soon as possible. The Rochester medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers are dedicated to helping victims of medical negligence seek justice, and if we represent you, we will advocate zealously on your behalf. You can reach us by calling 833-200-2000 or using our online form to arrange a meeting.

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