We trust our medical care providers with our health and well-being. Medical care providers are subject to a legal standard of care they owe a duty to their patients to provide. When a medical care provider fails to uphold this standard of care and a patient suffers as a result, then they may be held legally liable for the patient’s damages in a medical malpractice action. The failure to meet the standard of care is a critical element to a malpractice claim as it represents a violation of a legal duty, a central element to finding a health care professional negligent and, thus, subject to legal liability. Let’s take a look at how New York views the medical malpractice standard of care.
What Is the “Standard of Care” in New York?
The fact is that there is no single, definitive definition of “standard of care” for medical malpractice purposes. The nuances surrounding the standard of care are constantly growing and changing. There is also the fact that the standard will vary based on a number of different factors, including the particular medical situation at hand.
To look for guidance as to what standard of care your medical provider is held to, you can look to both formal guidelines and informal guidelines that have been established and accepted in the medical community regarding what treatment is appropriate for a particular disease or condition. There may be variations in these guidelines among different geographical areas and so you should be sure to look to the guidelines pertaining to the geographical area in which you sought or are seeking treatment.
The level of training and education of your medical provider can further impact the standard of care. You see, those with higher levels of training and education are likely to be held to a higher standard of care than others. Generally speaking, a medical provider will be found in compliance with the applicable standard of care if a similarly situated, similarly trained medical provider in a comparable geographical area would provide similar treatment under the same circumstances.
In a medical malpractice lawsuit, determining the standard of care and whether or not it was met in a certain situation will depend a lot on the testimony of expert witnesses. These witnesses will likely be medical professionals that possess similar education, training, experience, and skill as the defendant in the lawsuit. They will likely testify as to what they believe the standard of care is in the medical situation that is the subject of the lawsuit. They may be called on to point out how a certain treatment path fell below the standard of care. The expert witness may also be asked about how the patient suffered as a result of the treatment that fell below the standard of care.
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Think about how many people we put our trust in when it comes to our medical care. We trust our doctors. We trust nurses. When we have to go to the hospital, we trust the staff there. We are also putting our trust in the hospital itself to have done its due diligence in hiring hospital staff. Unfortunately, negligent hiring happens in hospitals and patients can suffer harm as a result. In these instances, the injury victim can pursue compensation for the damages they have sustained as a result of the hospital’s negligent hiring practices.
Common Negligent Hiring Practices in Hospitals
Being admitted to the hospital can be an unnerving and anxiety-inducing experience. It doesn’t make anyone feel better to consider the fact that hospital errors can result in serious injuries to patients. There are a variety of factors that can increase the chances of a hospital error occurring and one such big factor is when hospitals are not adequately staffed or have other staffing issues like unqualified or unfit individuals being hired in the first place.
Hospitals have a duty of care to make an appropriate standard of care available to patients. When this duty is breached and that breach causes a patient to suffer harm, then the hospital can be held legally liable for their negligence. One way hospitals expose themselves to liability is when they are negligent in their hiring practices. You see, a hospital can be held liable for the harm sustained by a patient because of an employee on the theory that they are responsible for the actions of an employee that they hired, supervised, or trained. If a hospital hired an employee they knew, or should have known, was unfit for the job and this negligent hiring practice contributed to you, the patient, sustaining injury or harm, then the hospital can be held legally responsible.
A hospital has a duty to consider if an applicant for employment is unfit considering the nature of the job and the applicant’s ability to properly fulfill the essential functions of the job. If there is a doubt about either of these things and the hospital hires the person anyways, they can be on the hook for compensating victims who suffer from harm caused by the employee.
Additionally, hospitals should have background checks when hiring staff members. In addition to duties regarding the hiring of hospital staff, hospitals also have a duty to ensure that the facility is adequately staffed at all times and that all staff are properly supervised. If a patient is injured due to negligent hiring, negligent staffing, or negligent supervision, the hospital can be held liable and, thus, may be on the hook for paying the injured payment monetary compensation.
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We place so much trust and faith in our doctors to take the best possible care with our health and well-being. When a doctor proves undeserving of that trust, provides substandard care, and a patient is harmed because of it, the law provides us with a way to seek compensation for that harm suffered. If you have suffered harm due to medical malpractice, you can pursue a claim for monetary compensation for the losses you have sustained as a result of the negligent medical care you received.
What Constitutes Medical Malpractice in New York?
Medical malpractice is based on the legal theory of negligence. In order to prove medical malpractice, you need to be able to prove that a doctor or other medical professional was negligent in the care they provided to you. What does that mean? What constitutes medical malpractice? Well, medical malpractice occurs when the following elements of negligence are substantiated:
- Duty: If you are a patient of a doctor or other medical care provider, they owe you a duty of care. That duty of care is to provide you with medical attention comparable to what would be provided to you by a similarly situated medical provider under similar circumstances.
- Breach: If your medical care provider fails to uphold this duty and provides you with substandard medical care, they have breached the duty of care to which you were legally entitled.
- Causation: The breach of the duty of care must have been the direct and proximate cause of any harm you claim to have suffered
- Damages: You must have sustained compensable damages as a result of the breach of the doctor’s duty of care that caused you harm.
It is important to understand that the damages you claim in a medical malpractice case are a reflection of the harm you have suffered. The damages you recover are meant to, in large part, compensate you for the losses you sustained due to the medical negligence. That is why damages in a medical malpractice case will commonly include things like medical expenses, lost wages, and loss of future earning potential. Damages will also likely include things like loss of enjoyment of life, and pain and suffering.
In other words, if a doctor provided you with substandard medical care and you were harmed as a result, it is likely that you have a medical malpractice claim on your hands. Be mindful that, in New York, there is a 30 month statute of limitations on medical malpractice claims. Failure to bring your claim in a timely manner will likely result in you being barred from bringing it altogether.
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If you have suffered as a result of negligent medical care, do not delay in reaching out to the team of dedicated medical malpractice attorneys at CDH Law. Medical malpractice claims can be tricky and the stakes are high when you may have incurred significant harm. We fight for our clients and their legal right to full and fair monetary recovery. Contact us today.
If you have been injured, harmed, or suffered due to receiving negligent medical care, you may be entitled to compensation through a medical malpractice claim. You see, medical professionals, owe patients a duty of care commensurate with that expected of similarly situated medical professionals of the same field and of comparable geographical locations, among other relevant factors. Those doctors, nurses, and other health care workers who fail to uphold such a duty can cause serious and lifelong harm to patients who trusted them with their well-being. In order to bring a successful medical malpractice claim, however, certain elements must be met with legally sound evidence.
Elements of a Medical Malpractice Claim
Medical malpractice refers to a legal claim based on the action or omission of a medical professional that deviates from the accepted medical standard of practice that results in harm to a patient. In order to bring a successful medical malpractice claim, a plaintiff must be able to establish four elements:
- Duty: The medical professional, oftentimes a doctor, must have owed the plaintiff a duty of care. This is commonly established easily just by demonstrating that the doctor-patient relationship existed. When a medical professional is responsible for providing some type of evaluation, treatment, or care for a person, the duty element is usually established. The duty itself refers to a duty to act within an applicable standard of care which will be discussed in more detail in the next element.
- Breach: The plaintiff must be able to demonstrate that the health care professional breached the relevant standard of care. In medical malpractice claims, the applicable standard of care is the level of care that a similarly situated medical professional would have provided under comparable circumstances. The standard of care takes into account things such as the specialized knowledge the doctor should have had, among other relevant factors. In medical malpractice cases, expert testimony is typically needed from other medical professionals in order to establish the standard of care that should have been exercised and to support a claim that the relevant standard was breached.
- Causation: The breach of the duty of care owed by the health care professional to the patient must have been the direct cause or a contributing factor to some harm suffered by the patient. This may have been an exacerbation of a preexisting condition or the development of a new medical issue in the patient, among other things.
- Damages: The plaintiff must also be able to prove that he or she suffered damages as a result of the health care professional’s breach of duty. In medical malpractice cases, compensable damages may include things like medical expenses, the cost of future medical care, lost wages, pain, and suffering, and other losses sustained as a result of the medical malpractice.
Medical malpractice can take many forms including:
- Surgical mistakes
- Delayed diagnosis or missed diagnosis
- Birth errors
- Prescription errors
In any of these forms, the same four elements must be established.
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If you have been hurt due to negligent medical care, the dedicated team of medical malpractice attorneys at CDH Law is here for you. Contact us today.