Hospitals, like doctors, are required to comply with a standard of care in treating patients. In many cases in which a hospital breaches the standard of care, a plaintiff will be able to assert both negligence and medical malpractice claims against the hospital. It is crucial for anyone who wishes to pursue a claim against a hospital to adequately plead any claim asserted, as an insufficient pleading can preclude the plaintiff from recovering damages. This was illustrated in a recent New York appellate court case, in which the court discussed what must be pleaded to establish general negligence versus medical negligence claims. If you or a loved one were injured due to inadequate care that was provided in a hospital, it is prudent to meet with a diligent Rochester hospital malpractice attorney regarding your right to seek damages.
Facts Regarding the Decedent’s Treatment
Reportedly, in August 2005, the plaintiff’s decedent was a patient at the defendant hospital, when he left his bed and began wandering the hallway in a confused state. He allegedly proceeded to hit members of the hospital staff, refused help, and subsequently suffered injuries. In August 2008, the plaintiff brought an action against the defendant hospital seeking damages due to the defendant’s negligence. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing the claims were precluded by the two and a half year statute of limitations that applies to medical malpractice claims, as the claims alleged medical, rather than general, negligence. The court granted the defendant’s motion, and the plaintiff appealed.
General Negligence Versus Medical Malpractice Claims
In assessing whether a claim sounds in general negligence or medical malpractice, the court must assess the nature of the duty owed to the plaintiff that the defendant allegedly breached. If the duty arises out of the patient-physician relationship or is substantially related to the plaintiff’s treatment, a breach establishes a cause of action for medical malpractice, not general negligence. In other words, whether a defendant’s breach constitutes medical malpractice or general negligence depends on whether the defendant’s alleged conduct involves medical science or skills not possessed by laypeople, or whether the defendant’s acts or omissions can be evaluated by an ordinary person.