Medical malpractice occurs when a medical professional, through a negligent act or omission, causes death or injury to a patient. Medical professionals have a responsibility to provide quality care to each patient they serve. When hospitals, doctors, nurses and staff fail to perform their duties with the highest level of competence and care, their patients may suffer serious or fatal injuries. Medical malpractice can be based on errors or omissions related to diagnosis, treatment, follow up care or health management.
We Help With Medical Negligence
Every medical malpractice case we handle is staffed by highly skilled and experienced lawyers who are dedicated to helping you recover the maximum amount for your injury. Our resources, skill and commitment, coupled with some of the most respected and talented trial lawyers in this area of the law, have enabled our firm to achieve multiple multimillion-dollar successes, despite often facing some of the most well-financed law firms the insurance industry can find.
Researching and proving malpractice can be costly and highly complex. Nevertheless, our firm makes the financial commitment to fully investigate and prosecute medical malpractice claims. We have worked with a wide array of experts best suited to uncover frequently overlooked evidence of negligence.
What Qualifies as Medical Malpractice?
A healthcare professional making an honest mistake does not constitute medical malpractice. For medical malpractice to occur, the healthcare professional in question must have violated the standard of care for a patient. The standard of care is the minimum acceptable level of treatment for a medical condition or disease. For example, if a doctor sees a patient complaining of severe stomach pain, the doctor would examine the patient in order to test reach an accurate diagnosis. Once the doctor reaches a diagnosis, he or she must then treat the patient accordingly.
Medicine is inherently uncertain and constantly evolving, and the medical community is always reaching new consensuses concerning the appropriate standard of care for a given condition. If a doctor treats a patient but does not meet the required minimum standard of care, the doctor would be guilty of medical malpractice if the breached standard of care resulted in any harm to the patient.
Medical malpractice can also involve gross negligence committed by a medical professional. This can include leaving an instrument in a patient. Ultimately, most medical malpractice claims require input from expert witnesses with relevant professional backgrounds. For example, if a medical malpractice lawsuit concerning a misdiagnosis resulting in the delay in diagnosing cancer, an expert witness with a background in oncology could help shed light on the situation from a professional perspective.
We represent patients suffering significant damages in New York from medical malpractice arising from:
- Birth Injuries, including brain damage, physical disfigurement and wrongful death
- Failure to Diagnose Cancer, such as breast, colon and prostate cancer
- Emergency Room Errors
- failure to diagnose heart disease
- Failure to Diagnose Illness or Disease
- Surgical Errors, including those arising before, during or after surgery
- Anesthesia Errors
- Medication Errors
New York Surgical Error Lawyers
No major surgery is without risk, but there are certain surgical errors that can and should be avoided. When surgeons, nurses and hospital staff fail to properly perform their duties, and when hospitals do not take proper precautions to ensure patient safety, patients may suffer serious or fatal injuries. At Sullivan Papain Block McGrath & Cannavo P.C., we are committed to helping people who have been injured as a result of medical negligence.
Surgical errors may include
- Operating on the wrong body part
- Failure to adequately warn patients of known risks
- Leaving instruments and equipment in patients
- Anesthesia errors
- Negligent performance of surgical procedures
- Failing to properly monitor a patient’s vital signs
- Failure to take proper precautions before, during or after surgery
- Other doctor, nurse or medical staff negligence
Anesthesiologists have a significant responsibility to their patients. Before administering anesthesia to a patient, the anesthesiologist must take into account any medication allergies a patient may have, contemplate the nature of the procedure involved, and take proper precautions to prevent the unnecessary risk of harm to the patient. If you or a loved one has been injured due to an anesthesia error, you may have a basis to obtain compensation through a medical malpractice claim. To learn more, contact Sullivan Papain Block McGrath & Cannavo P.C. Our lawyers represent clients throughout New York and New Jersey in medical malpractice claims.
Medications must be properly prescribed and administered to ensure patient safety. When physicians and nurses make critical medication errors, patients may suffer serious or fatal injuries. Most medication errors can be prevented with due care. Doctors and nurses must take time to properly communicate with each other and with their patients. Patient charts must be carefully reviewed and patients must be questioned about potential drug allergies. Careful steps must be taken to avoid human errors, such as administering a shot or medication to the wrong patient, accidentally writing the wrong medication dosage on a patient chart or providing patients with medication at a level exceeding the correct dose may cause fatal injury to patients. Some medication errors may cause irreversible brain damage. These and other medication errors can and should be prevented through carefully developed and implemented patient safety measures.
Malpractice Suits Against Doctors for Misdiagnosis
Doctors must use an appropriate diagnostic process when determining a patient’s condition. Usually, a doctor will develop a differential diagnostic process based on the patient’s claimed symptoms and vital signs. The doctor composes a list of possible diagnoses and then uses a process of elimination to reach an accurate diagnosis. If a doctor failed to deliver a timely and accurate diagnosis due to negligence or an inappropriate differential diagnosis process, the doctor is likely liable for medical malpractice if the error resulted in injury to the patient.
Other parties could also bear liability for a misdiagnosis. For example, a doctor may order blood tests or other screenings from specialists or require laboratory analysis of a patient sample. If a specialist or lab technician makes an error during testing, it could lead to an inaccurate diagnosis.
Malpractice Suits Due to Medical Error
Misdiagnoses can easily lead to inappropriate or ineffective treatments. For example, a false positive could lead to a patient undergoing invasive or unpleasant treatments. If a doctor rendered an incorrect cancer diagnosis, the patient may undergo significant treatments with adverse side effects needlessly. If an erroneous diagnosis results from a false negative, the doctor’s failure to accurately assess the patient’s condition could lead to the condition worsening over time and potentially causing secondary complications. Some conditions may escalate beyond the point where treatment would have been possible, resulting in extreme injuries and possibly even permanent disability or death.
To succeed with a lawsuit for medical malpractice due to medical error, the plaintiff’s attorney must prove a few key facts about the defendant and his or her relationship to the plaintiff.
- The plaintiff’s attorney must establish that a doctor-patient relationship existed between the plaintiff and the defendant.
- The plaintiff’s attorney must then prove that the defendant breached the standard of care for the patient’s condition. This usually requires testimony from expert witnesses who can explain to the jury how a defendant’s behavior fell below the standard of care for the patient’s condition.
- Next, the plaintiff’s attorney must prove that the plaintiff suffered some harm as a result of the doctor’s conduct. For example, if a doctor performing surgery left an instrument the patient’s body this could lead to the need for an additional procedure to remove the instrument and/or damage to nearby organs and structures. The plaintiff’s attorney must prove the defendant’s actions caused some sort of harm or measurable loss to the plaintiff.
- The final element of proving medical malpractice is linking the defendant’s behavior to the plaintiff’s claimed damages. The plaintiff’s attorney must prove the plaintiff’s claimed damages were the direct results of the defendant’s actions and not preexisting injuries or the results of another cause.
Proving the extent of a plaintiff’s damages can be difficult in some medical malpractice lawsuits. Expert witnesses can help a jury understand the future costs of medical treatment the plaintiff is likely to incur and the full scope of his or her lost earning potential if he or she suffered a catastrophic injury resulting in permanent disability.
Punitive Damages in Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
When a defendant’s behavior falls outside the scope of general negligence, involved any criminal activity, or the defendant committed an intentional tort against the plaintiff, the resulting lawsuit could potentially yield punitive damages for the plaintiff. As the name implies, punitive damages aim to punish wrongdoing, specifically for egregious examples of negligence or intentional harmful acts.
Most states allow for punitive damages in rare cases but often place caps or limits on the amount available. For example, a state may not have any limits on economic or non-economic recovery of damages in a medical malpractice case but limit punitive damages to $200,000. New York does not have any caps or limits on any type of compensation, including the damages in medical malpractice claims.
Juries typically assign punitive damages based on the wealth of the defendant. Large corporations or high-earning medical professionals stand to lose much more in punitive damages than the average person.
New York Medical Malpractice Statutes
New York has a statute of limitations which limits your time to file a claim. There are different statutes of limitations for different types of claims. In New York, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice lawsuits is generally two years and six months starting on the date the malpractice in question occurred. Some things may toll or delay the statute’s start time, such as the minor status of the victim. The time to file a claim against a municipality is different.
Most states follow a discovery rule that allows the statute of limitations to begin on the date of the discovery of an injury rather than the date the injury occurred. For example, a doctor could have caused a small internal injury that does not manifest noticeable symptoms for months or even years after the fact, suddenly causing debilitating pain and requiring corrective surgery.
New York is somewhat limited in terms of the discovery rule compared to most other states; the discovery rule only applies in medical malpractice claims involving a surgical sponge or other instrument left inside the patient’s body. Upon discovery of such an issue, the victim has one year to take legal action. The discovery rule may also allow the statute to begin on the date he or she should have reasonably discovered the issue.
The Best Medical Malpractice Lawyers in New York
Our NY attorneys have been recognized by Super Lawyers, Best Lawyers in America, The National Trial Lawyers Association, and Pulse Magazine’s Top 10 Legal Eagles, and also are recipients of the highest rating (AV®) from Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings. Lawyers at the firm are active in many legal organizations and have taken leadership roles in the New York State Trial Lawyers Association and New Jersey Association for Justice.
We seek to educate our colleagues and have frequently been called upon by other plaintiffs’ lawyers, as well as trial judges and adversaries, to lecture fellow practitioners at seminars on the complexities of medical malpractice law. In fact, one of our attorneys chairs an annual lecture for the New York State Trial Lawyers Association on medical malpractice cases and another is a special professor of law at Hofstra University School of Law.
Our track record includes winning many substantial verdicts and settlements for patients such as awards for these injuries.