Medical malpractice cases are among the most complex within the personal injury realm. There are strict requirements regarding time limits during which they must be filed, and also higher standards of proof than what is expected in other negligence claims.
Our New York City medical malpractice lawyers know it is not enough to show an adverse outcome resulting from a medical procedure – even if that outcome was very poor and unexpected. One has to show the adverse outcome, resulting in serious injury, illness or death, resulted from the physician’s breach of acceptable care standard set for those in that particular field of practice.
While the burden of proof is high, there is no question the problem is widespread. The U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging recently held hearings in response to research published in the Journal of Patient Safety, indicating the annual number of fatalities in the U.S. due to medical errors was around 440,000. That’s more than 1,000 deaths every single day. That doesn’t even include the 10,000 or so who every week suffer non-fatal consequences resulting from medical mistakes or misdiagnoses. This is a major problem.
Still, proving it can be tough, so it’s important to have an experienced attorney on your side.
The recent case of Cafaro v. Ceka, before the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department, was dismissed for failure to meet this bar.
According to court records, the case was brought by the personal representative for the estate of the deceased patient. Plaintiff filed a medical malpractice action alleging defendant doctor’s failure to diagnose and treat an obstruction in the patient’s common bile duct contributed to her death. The woman’s passing was also attributed partially to hemorrhagic pancreatitis.
In order to move this case to the trial phase, plaintiffs needed to show there were triable issues of fact by presenting an expert witness who could explain why doctors should have suspected a blockage in the duct while the patient was in their care. However, the expert witness referenced only an “area of haziness” on the CT scan taken hours before the woman’s death. The problem was the “haziness” to which the expert referred was in an area of the abdomen different from where the common bile duct is situated.
Further, the defendants, in a motion for summary judgment, provided extensive deposition testimony, detailed records and specific affirmation of their expert medical witness that the physicians here did not depart from accepted and good medical practice in their treatment of this woman.
The court found the latter evidence more compelling, and granted the motion for summary judgment to the defense.
This case shows why it is important to build a strong case at the outset. Here, a key witness for the plaintiff failed to effectively communicate a critical point in the case. These are things that should be recognized and addressed prior to the deposition phase.
The Law Offices of Nicholas Rose, PLLC offers free consultations. Call 1-877-313-7673.
Cafaro v. Ceka, August 27, 2014 SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department
More Blog Entries:
NYC Aims to Reduce Personal Injury Lawsuits with ClaimStat, Aug. 15, 2014, New York City Injury Lawyer Blog