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New York Court Dismisses a Medical Malpractice Claim Due to Plaintiff’s Failure to Show a Breach of the Standard of Care

In many instances, a doctor’s failure to conduct the tests needed to provide a patient with an accurate diagnosis constitutes medical malpractice. In some cases, however, even if a doctor’s diagnosis is delayed, the doctor may not be held liable for any harm suffered by the patient if the applicable standard of care does not require a doctor to consider all possible diagnoses. This was demonstrated in a recent New York pediatric malpractice case in which the court dismissed the plaintiff’s claims due to the plaintiff’s inability to show that the failure to diagnosis a rare condition constituted a breach of the standard of care. If your child suffered harm because of a delayed diagnosis, it is in your best interest to speak to a trusted Rochester pediatric malpractice attorney to assess what damages you may be owed.

The Child’s Alleged Harm

It is alleged that the defendant pediatrician examined the plaintiff-child in early November 2008 for an infection. The defendant prescribed the plaintiff-child antibiotics. The defendant saw the plaintiff-child again one day later, and five days later, when his condition seemed to be improving. Six days after the initial visit, however, the plaintiff-mother called the defendant and reported that the plaintiff-child had a fever, and had recently undergone dental work, after which the defendant advised the plaintiff-mother to take the plaintiff-child to the emergency room.

Reportedly, the plaintiff-child was diagnosed with bacterial endocarditis, which required surgery to preserve his mitral valve function. The plaintiffs then filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant, alleging the plaintiff’s condition should have been diagnosed via an echocardiogram, but that one was not performed until ten days after the plaintiff’s initial visit. Following discovery, the defendant filed a motion to dismiss, which the court ultimately granted. The plaintiff then appealed.

Demonstrating a Breach of the Standard of Care

It is well established that a defendant in a medical malpractice case in New York must make a prima facie showing that he or she did not depart from the accepted and good practice of medicine, or that to the extent any departure occurred it did not cause the plaintiff to suffer harm. If the defendant meets this burden, the plaintiff’s claims will be dismissed unless the plaintiff submits evidentiary materials or facts sufficient to rebut the defendant’s evidence, so as to show that a triable issue of fact exists.

In the subject case, the appellate court found that the defendant set forth a prima facie showing, but the plaintiff failed to adduce evidence sufficient to show that a material issue of fact existed. Specifically, the defendant submitted an expert affidavit stating that children rarely suffered from endocarditis and that it was not within the applicable standard of care for a physician to rule out each possible infectious disease or process after a few days absent specific symptoms. In turn, the plaintiff failed to demonstrate that the defendant had a duty to rule out all possible sources of the infection. Thus, the appellate court affirmed the dismissal of the plaintiff’s claims.

Speak to a Seasoned Rochester Attorney

If your child suffered an injury or illness due to a doctor’s failure to provide a prompt and accurate diagnosis, you may be able to recover damages and should speak to an attorney. The seasoned pediatric malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP Personal Injury Lawyers have the skills and experience needed to prove a negligent healthcare provider should be held liable for your child’s harm and will zealously advocate on your behalf. You can contact us through our form online or at 585-653-7343 to set up a meeting.

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