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New York Court Discusses Proof Needed to Show Deviation from Standard of Care

The quality of testimony provided by an expert can make or break a plaintiff’s medical malpractice case. An expert must show not only that he or she is qualified to offer an opinion regarding the alleged malpractice in the particular specialty in which the defendant practices, he or she must also offer an opinion sufficient to show the manner in which the defendant deviated from the standard of care. If an expert fails to meet these requirements, it can be fatal to a plaintiff’s case.

This was illustrated in a recent case decided by the appellate division of the Supreme Court of New York, where the court held that the plaintiff’s expert’s report was insufficient to show there was an issue of fact as to whether the defendant failed to meet the standard of care.  If you suffered harm due to medical malpractice, it is in your best interest to consult a skilled Rochester medical malpractice attorney to discuss your case.

Facts Regarding the Treatment of the Decedent

Reportedly, the plaintiff decedent underwent a knee replacement surgery on July 30, 2010. The surgery was performed by the defendant surgeon at the defendant hospital. The decedent had multiple health issues, including anemia and hypertension, at the time of the surgery, but she tolerated the surgery well. Following the surgery, she was prescribed an anticoagulant to prevent the formation of deep venous thrombosis (DVT). She remained hospitalized in stable condition. On August 4, 2010, however, she died due to a pulmonary embolism caused by a DVT in her leg.

It is alleged that the plaintiff, as administrator of the decedent’s estate, sued the defendants for medical malpractice, alleging in part that the decedent’s medical history placed her at a high risk of developing DVT and that the defendant surgeon departed from accepted medical practice due to his failure to prescribe DVT prophylaxis. The defendants and plaintiff both moved for summary judgment. The court granted the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment and denied the defendants’ motion. The defendant appealed.

Proving What Treatment is Required Under the Standard of Care

On appeal, the court reversed the trial court ruling and granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant. The court held that the defendant made a prima facie showing that the did not depart from the standard of care. Specifically, he provided expert testimony from an orthopedic surgeon that the use of the drug he prescribed to prevent DVT and the dosage provided were consistent with the standard of care following knee surgery. Further, the record showed that the decedent exhibited no signs of DVT in the days following the surgery. Lastly, the defendant’s expert addressed the alleged departures from the standard of care as set forth by the plaintiff.

Conversely, the court found that the plaintiff’s expert did not state that he had any training or expertise in orthopedic surgery or how to prevent DVT, and failed to establish how he became familiar with the standard for care in the defendant surgeon’s specialized area of practice. Further, the plaintiff’s expert failed to set forth what treatment was required to prevent DVT under the standard of care. As such, the court found the plaintiff’s expert failed to raise a triable issue of fact.

Meet with an Experienced  Medical Malpractice Attorney to Discuss Your Case

If you or a loved one suffered an injury or illness due to medical malpractice, you should meet with an experienced Rochester medical malpractice attorney to discuss your case and your options for seeking damages. The knowledgeable Rochester medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers will work diligently to help you pursue a successful legal result under the facts of your case. We can be reached at 833-200-2000 or via the online form to set up a confidential and free meeting.

More Blog Posts:

Court of Appeals Reverses Because Expert Opinion did not Sufficiently Establish Causation, Rochester Medical Malpractice and Personal Injury Blog, December 26, 2018

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