Allegations of medical malpractice are exceedingly common in America, and in New York especially. As one of the most populous states in the country, our state’s courts see these types of cases at a high rate. For medical professionals and hospitals who are facing these allegations, the name of the game is to prevent a finding of fault.
So, how is that accomplished? Well, each case is obviously different, with vastly different factual scenarios and medical treatments involved. But, when you look at a few of the elements of a basic medical malpractice claim, there are a couple of good spots where defendants can make their stand.
The first elements of the case
First, plaintiffs who bring a medical malpractice claim must prove that there was a “duty” owed between doctor and patient. In many cases, this duty is indisputable – the patient was indeed treated by the doctor in question or at the hospital named in the case. However, sometimes this element of the case can be murky – was the defendant merely consulted? Did the defendant actually render some type of care? When it is an open question, there is a chance to dispute that such a doctor-patient relationship existed between the named parties.
Typically, the best place for defendants to make their stand is when plaintiffs must prove that the defendant deviated from the applicable standard of care – thereby constituting a breach of the doctor-patient duty. Proving this part of the case is usually the hardest part for plaintiffs, since it can involve highly technical evidence as well as challenging the medical expertise of the defendants. In essence, the plaintiff has to prove that the defendant made a mistake, which is not an easy thing to accomplish in an area like medical treatment, where there aren’t many “black and white” areas on what is best or what is incorrect.