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New York Court Discusses Proof Needed to Establish Liability for Negligently Prescribed Medication

Many medications have side effects, and while generally, the benefits provided by such drugs outweigh any potentially detrimental consequences, doctors must assess each patient’s risk factors to determine whether a medication is appropriate. Doctors that recklessly prescribe medications may be held accountable for any harm caused by their carelessness, but merely because a patient is harmed by a side effect of a drug does not mean a doctor committed malpractice, as shown in a recent New York ruling. If you suffered harm because of a negligently prescribed medication, you might be owed damages, and it is in your best interest to talk to a Rochester medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff, a university student, visited a doctor at the school’s counseling services for mental health care. The doctor assessed the plaintiff as having general anxiety and directed her to see the defendant. The defendant diagnosed the plaintiff with major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder and prescribed her a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI).

Allegedly, three months later, the plaintiff fell off of a subway station in New York City and was struck by a train. She subsequently filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant, alleging she negligently prescribed her the SSRI in an improper dosage without informing her of the side effects or conducting a thorough exam. The defendant moved for summary judgment.

Establishing Liability for Negligently Prescribed Medication

The court ultimately granted the defendant’s motion and dismissed the plaintiff’s claims. The court noted the defendant had the initial burden of making a prima facie showing that she was entitled to judgment in her favor as a matter of law by offering evidence demonstrating there were no material issues of fact.

She met this burden by submitting an affidavit from a psychiatrist who opined that the defendant’s assessment and treatment of the plaintiff’s condition were in accordance with the applicable standard of care. As such, the burden then shifted to the plaintiff, who needed to establish the existence of a factual dispute in order to withstand summary judgment.

While the plaintiff submitted her own expert affidavit, the court found it to be conclusory and speculative and noted that it failed to address the assertions set forth in the defendant’s expert affidavit. Thus, even viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to the plaintiff, the court found that she failed to prove that there was a factual issue that needed to be resolved by a jury. As such, the court granted the defendant’s motion.

Meet with a Skilled Rochester Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Doctors must take adequate care to avoid causing preventable harm when prescribing their patients medication, and if they do not, it may constitute medical malpractice. If you suffered harm because of a doctor’s carelessness, it is prudent to meet with an attorney to discuss your possible claims. The skilled Rochester medical malpractice lawyers of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers can assess the facts of your case and formulate compelling arguments on your behalf. You can contact us via our form online or by calling us at 585-653-7343 to set up a conference.

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