In New York as well as every other jurisdiction, medical malpractice is
based on a finding that the doctor or other health care provider was negligent
under the circumstances. It must be proved that the defendant’s
services fell below the minimum standard of care recognized by the doctor’s
peers in the community. Even if negligence is proved, the patient must
then prove causation in order to prevail on a medical malpractice claim.
That means that it must be proved by a preponderance of the evidence that
the doctor’s carelessness was the direct cause of the condition
or injury claimed. For example, if a doctor leaves a small sponge in the
patient’s abdomen, and the patient later dies from a cerebral hemorrhage,
it’s unlikely that the two events are tied together. Plaintiff’s
malpractice attorneys are experienced and adept enough to advise a potential
malpractice claimant, whether or not there is a problem in proving causation.
In a case in Boston, a jury has awarded $16.7 million to the immediate
family of a woman who died of lung cancer that was subjected to a delayed
diagnosis. The patient died in 2008 at the age of 47, about two years
after she was informed that she had a normal chest x-ray. She was sent
home with some antibiotics for congestion. She returned 13 months later
with the same symptoms, and another doctor discovered the lung cancer.
By that point, it was too late to do anything, and she died shortly thereafter.
Although cancer is said to be ultimately fatal, there are treatments and
procedures nowadays that can extend a patient’s lifespan considerably.
Therefore, the jury found that the negligence of the radiologist in failing
to properly read an x-ray led to several years more of an extended lifespan
denied to the patient. This constituted medical malpractice, both in New
York and elsewhere.
Source: masslive.com, "Jury awards $16.7M in Boston medical malpractice suit"
, June 30, 2014