It is not uncommon for a patient with complex health issues to treat with multiple providers. If a patient under the care of several physicians subsequently suffers an adverse medical event due to inadequate care, it can be challenging to demonstrate which treatment provider committed medical malpractice. In a recent New York opinion, the court discussed what evidence is needed to demonstrate liability in a medical malpractice case with multiple defendants. If you suffered losses due to inadequate medical care, it is smart to meet with a Rochester medical malpractice attorney to determine what claims you may be able to pursue.
It is alleged that in May 2011, the plaintiff sought medical treatment for an unexplained fever from her primary care doctor, the defendant. Despite oral antibiotic treatment, the fever persisted, leading the defendant to order a CT scan, revealing suspicious masses in the plaintiff’s abdomen and lung. Due to her history of lymphoma, the defendant referred the plaintiff to the defendant oncologist to assess a possible recurrence of cancer. The plaintiff also consulted with the defendant rheumatologist. The defendant rheumatologist conducted multiple examinations and tests, issuing reports noting abnormalities. Unable to definitively diagnose or rule out malignancy, the defendant rheumatologist referred the plaintiff to specialists.
It is reported that the plaintiff was later hospitalized for a bacterial infection, developed endocarditis, and suffered a stroke. In 2012, the plaintiff initiated a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendants. The defendant oncologist and rheumatologist moved for summary judgment; the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants, dismissing the complaint. The plaintiff appealed, but she passed away during the proceedings, and the executor of her estate was substituted.
Demonstrating Liability in a Medical Malpractice Case with Multiple Defendants
On appeal, the court emphasized that to establish medical malpractice, a plaintiff must prove a departure from accepted standards of practice and that it was a proximate cause of the injuries. Among other things, this means they must establish the existence and scope of a physician’s duty.
In the subject case, the court found that the defendant oncologist and rheumatologist demonstrated their entitlement to summary judgment by presenting deposition testimony, medical records, and an expert affirmation. The court noted that the defendant oncologist’s duties did not extend to the diagnosis and treatment of infectious disease, and there was no evidence suggesting he assumed such a duty.
In opposition, the plaintiff failed to present a triable issue of fact. Her experts lacked the necessary qualifications to opine on the defendant oncologist’s actions as a medical oncologist, and their opinions were deemed unreliable.
Further, the court rejected the argument that defendant oncologist and rheumatologist had “taken over the case” based on a misinterpretation of deposition testimony. Ultimately, the court affirmed the summary judgment, concluding that defendant oncologist’s and rheumatologist’s roles were limited, and they did not depart from accepted medical practice.
Meet with a Skilled Rochester Medical Malpractice Lawyer
People who sustain injuries due to the carelessness of their treatment providers can often recover compensation via medical malpractice lawsuits. If you were harmed by an incompetent physician, it is wise to meet with an attorney as soon as possible. The skilled Rochester medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury can examine the circumstances surrounding your harm and help you pursue damages from anyone who may be responsible for your losses. You can reach us by calling 833-200-2000 or using our online form to set up a meeting.