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New York Court Discusses What Constitutes Sufficient Evidence to Support a Failure to Diagnose Claim

In many medical malpractice cases, both parties will rely upon the medical records to support their position. While the absence of complaints of pain in a medical record may harm the case of a plaintiff alleging a failure to diagnose claim, it is not dispositive, as shown in a recent case decided by the appellate division of the Supreme Court of New York. If you sustained injuries due to a delayed diagnosis, it is in your best interest to consult an assertive Rochester misdiagnosis attorney to discuss what evidence you must produce to prove your care provider should be held liable for your harm.

Facts and Procedural Background of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff visited the defendant hospital in September 2013, where he underwent a colonoscopy performed by the defendant gastroenterologist. Immediately after the colonoscopy, the plaintiff complained of severe abdominal pain. The attending physicians did not conduct any additional tests, however, and the plaintiff was discharged. Ultimately, the plaintiff was diagnosed with a perforated colon. He subsequently filed a lawsuit against the defendants, alleging medical malpractice and negligent hiring. The defendants filed a motion for summary judgment on both counts. The court granted the motion, after which plaintiffs appealed.

Evidence Sufficient to Withstand Summary Judgment

On appeal, the court affirmed the order as to the negligent hiring claims, stating that there was no evidence that any of the medical providers involved in the plaintiff’s care were unqualified or had a history of providing negligent care. The court reversed the portion of the order dismissing the medical malpractice claims, however.

On review, the court stated that the defendants established prima facie that they did not depart from the standard of care. Specifically, the defendants’ experts opined that the colonoscopy was routine and that the perforation did not develop for several hours after the procedure was complete, well after the plaintiff had left the hospital, and therefore, could not have been diagnosed by the defendants when the plaintiff was under their care. The defendants’ experts also stated that the plaintiff would have undergone the same treatment regardless of when the perforation was diagnosed.

In response, the plaintiffs’ expert opined that the perforation was present before the plaintiff was discharged from the hospital and that if the plaintiff had been diagnosed in a timely manner, he would have been saved from prolonged pain and suffering and would not have developed peritonitis. Thus, the court found that the plaintiff raised an issue of fact as to whether the defendant deviated from the standard of care, causing the plaintiff harm. The court was not persuaded by the defendants’ argument that the fact that the plaintiff’s complaints of pain were not in the medical records was dispositive because the plaintiff testified he made such complaints. As such, the court found that the facts were adequate to support the plaintiff’s expert’s opinion.

Speak with a Trusted Malpractice Attorney

If you were injured by a doctor’s failure to provide an appropriate diagnosis, you should speak with a trusted Rochester medical malpractice attorney to discuss what compensation you may be owed from anyone responsible for your harm. The skillful attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP Personal Injury Lawyers will develop persuasive arguments in your favor to help you pursue a successful outcome. We can be reached at 585-653-7343 or through our form online to schedule a free and confidential conference.

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