If you believe you or your loved ones have experienced harm due to medical malpractice, you are not alone.

According to the NPBD, medical malpractice lawsuits are prevalent in the US, with thousands being filed every year. From 2002 to 2022, New York has seen the highest number of these lawsuits, with nearly 40,000 cases filed.

With that in mind, if you wish to proceed with this lawsuit, it’s important to understand what medical malpractice is. In this blog, we will focus on explaining what constitutes a case in New York City specifically.

What is Medical Malpractice in NYC?

Medical malpractice is defined as any action or failure to act by a physician during the treatment of a patient that departs from accepted medical standards and causes injury to the patient. It is a subset of tort law concerned with professional negligence.

In the US, medical practice law varies from state to state because it’s under the authority of the individual states. It has been shaped by suits filed over the years along with statutes passed by legislatures. However, the principles are the same across all countries.

Four Elements of Medical Malpractice

There are four elements you must prove to make a successful claim:

1.      Legal duty

The first element you must be able to prove is the presence of a legal duty on the part of the physician to provide care or treatment to the patient. In short, was that particular doctor responsible for the patient’s care?

Most of the time, this element is the easiest one to prove as it exists whenever a doctor-patient relationship is established – for instance, when a physician was covering patients for a colleague or providing emergency care to an accident victim.

There are a couple of exceptions to the duty of care, such as one when the doctor sees the patient as a nonprofessional.

2.      Breach

The second requirement is proving that there was a breach of this duty by the treating physician through a failure to adhere to the standards of the medical profession.

This is where the term “standard of care” must be invoked. In short: what care would a reasonable physician in the community with similar training and experience provide? This standard won’t be the same across all states, so it’s best to consult an NYC medical malpractice lawyer.

The breach element is usually proved through expert testimony, but that may not be necessary if the breach is egregious. For example, removing the wrong ovary is an obvious breach, and thus, expert testimony is simply not necessary.

3.      Causation

To prove this element, you must show that the injury is the result of the breach of duty. There must be a direct relationship between those two, or at least a legally sufficient relationship (proximate causation).

For example, did the treatment of a heart attack lead to the patient’s death, or was the death the result of other factors, such as pre-existing medical conditions or lifestyle factors like smoking or diet?

4.      Damages

You will need to prove the damages. This means that the three previous elements must result in damages in order to win a lawsuit.

If a patient with a fractured tibia underwent closed reduction and cast application instead of the appropriate open fixation, resulting in the need for multiple operations and increased expenses, damages would be evident. However, if the fracture healed properly despite the incorrect treatment, the court would not award compensation.

Damages deal with compensation for things like loss of wages or medical costs, as well as pain and suffering. Finally, punitive damages are only awarded if the victim shows that the doctor or healthcare provider acted recklessly.

Types of Medical Malpractice in NYC

There are many different types of medical malpractice in NYC, but the most common ones are:

  1. Misdiagnosis (inaccurate diagnosis or failing to recognize the patient’s condition)
  2. Delayed diagnosis
  3. Surgical errors (unnecessary surgery, wrong procedure, inadequate aftercare, etc.)
  4. Birth injuries (dystocia, nerve damage, cephalohematoma, etc.)
  5. Prescription drug errors (often a result of misdiagnosis)

Medical Negligence vs. Malpractice

The terms “medical negligence” and “medical malpractice” are often used interchangeably, but they are actually different. Medical negligence refers to a healthcare provider performing a service that deviates from the accepted medical standard of care.

In New York City, if a physician provides substandard treatment, they can be considered “negligent.” However, you would need to prove that their negligence caused an injury to build your case.

Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations represents a timeframe within which a lawsuit must be filed. It varies by state, but in New York, it is 30 months or 2 and a half years. Filing a lawsuit after the statute of limitations has expired may lead to its dismissal if the other party raises the issue.

To Sum Up

In conclusion, understanding medical malpractice in New York City requires a grasp of the key elements that constitute a case. These include proving the existence of a legal duty, demonstrating a breach of that duty, establishing a causal relationship between the breach and the injury, and showcasing damages resulting from the injury. Additionally, keep in mind the statute of limitations.

We hope this blog helps you understand medical malpractice a bit better and encourages you to seek justice.