Medical malpractice in New York: a primer

Medical malpractice suits can help hold negligent professionals responsible for injuries to patients.

Patients seek treatment to heal wounds and cure illness, often placing their lives in the hands of medical professionals. In many cases, these professionals rise to the task. They treat patients with care and respect and dedicate themselves to the profession.

Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

A recent case out of New York provides an example. A decorated physician, the head of orthopedic surgery, is facing ten malpractice suits. He is allegedly responsible for four patient deaths since 2008.

In order to understand the severity of these accusations, it is helpful to know the basics of medical malpractice suits in New York.

Medical malpractice in New York: defined

The New York City Bar, a group of legal professionals from throughout NYC, defines medical malpractice as the failure to provide care for "someone in accordance with the accepted standards of the medical profession." This failure is so serious that it results in injury to the person or results in an illness or a condition or illness becomes worse as a result of the provided medical care.

Medical malpractice in reality: a case as an example

In this case, the doctor accepted a position with Bronx-Lebanon hospital in 2008. The medical Center hoped to increase the number of hip and knee replacements. Within a month of taking the position, the physician conducted a hip procedure on a 57 year-old woman with diabetes and kidney disease. He did not conduct any follow up appointments after the procedure. The woman developed various complications, including a serious infection. The patient died less than six weeks after the procedure.

The physician is facing a medical malpractice suit for failing to provide an acceptable standard of care to this and other patients. In this case, the hospital may also hold some liability as it hired the physician despite the fact that two medical malpractice suits were pending at the time the hospital offered the position. The hospital received direct complaints, providing support that they were well aware of the issues.

Victims of medical malpractice: lessons from the case

This case is an example of how a medical malpractice claim can provide a means for victims to hold medical professionals who cause injuries accountable. A previous medical malpractice case against this same physician resulted in a settlement in 2004 for $115,000.

Although a loved one cannot be replaced, holding those responsible for the injuries that contributed to the death of a loved one can help provide some closure. It can also result in monetary awards to help cover the medical bills and other costs that remain after a loved one is lost.