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New York Court Explains Elements of a Medical Malpractice Case

People suffering from drug addiction will often seek treatment at a healthcare facility. Typically, doctors oversee the care of patients in drug treatment facilities; as such, if a patient dies while going through the detoxication process, their surviving family members may pursue medical malpractice claims against the doctor in charge of the facility. Merely because a doctor works at a drug treatment facility does not mean that they have a doctor-patient relationship with everyone in the facility, however. This was demonstrated in a recent New York medical malpractice case in which the court found no such relationship existed and granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant. If you or a loved one sustained harm in the context of medical care, it is smart to meet with a Rochester medical malpractice lawyer about your options.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the decedent was undergoing treatment at a residential substance abuse facility in New York. The defendant was the attending doctor at the facility; however, he did not have any interaction with the decedent or communicate with her, and she was not his patient. Tragically, the decedent died due to complications from withdrawal. Her family subsequently filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant, alleging he negligently performed his duties, thereby causing the decedent harm. The defendant moved for summary judgment, and the court granted his motion, after which the plaintiff appealed.

Elements of a Medical Malpractice Case

The salient issue on appeal was whether the decedent and the defendant had a doctor-patient relationship. The court noted that such a relationship is typically a requirement for recovery in New York medical malpractice actions. While the defendant offered ample evidence that no such relationship existed, the plaintiff failed to offer a rebuttal. He did argue, however, that even if the defendant had no personal contact with the decedent, the defendant should be held liable for failing to properly oversee the medical and non-medical staff of the facility and the medical services they provided.

The appellate court declined to adopt this reasoning, noting that pursuant to New York law, absent proof of a negligent omission or act on behalf of the director of a medical department while working in their professional capacity, they will not be deemed liable for medical malpractice. As the plaintiff failed to offer proof of such negligence, the appellate court affirmed the trial court ruling.

Consult a Skilled Rochester Medical Malpractice Lawyer

People who lose a loved one due to incompetent medical care have the right to pursue medical malpractice claims against the doctors responsible for their losses, but if they cannot establish each element of their claims, they will be denied compensation. If your loved one died due to a physician’s carelessness, you should consult an attorney to discuss what claims you may be able to pursue. The skilled Rochester medical malpractice lawyers of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers can advise you of your rights and aid you in seeking the maximum damages recoverable under the law.  You can contact us via our online form or by calling 585-653-7343 to set up a conference.

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