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Hospital defends medical malpractice case, says no causation

Posted by Joseph F. Sullivan | Feb 13, 2014 | 0 Comments

The standard to be determined in a medical malpractice case is one of negligence. The question is whether the physician or medical providers fell below the minimally accepted standard of care recognized by like practitioners in the community under similar circumstances. If the answer is that they did, the inquiry is not finished. Even though the medical providers may have been careless, it must also be shown under New York law that the negligence was a substantial factor in causing the injuries sustained before there can be a finding of medical malpractice.

Thus, sometimes the medical provider's carelessness is very clear, but it may have had nothing to do with the actual medical outcome. If a patient had an inoperable, fatal brain tumor, for example, and the hospital neglected to administer prescribed pain medication, that would be an unfortunate fact in the patient's treatment. However, it would not be the cause of death shortly thereafter of a terminal brain tumor.

A causation defense is being raised by a prominent hospital in northeastern Pennsylvania in a lawsuit filed by the family of a young medical doctor who died on May 29 while a patient at the defendant Geisinger Medical Center. The 26-year-old female was experiencing headaches and was transferred from a first hospital to Geisinger. The complaint alleges that because it was the Memorial Day weekend, Geisinger doctors did not perform immediate tests or provide the necessary treatment to keep her alive. Ironically, the young doctor was to begin her residency in pediatrics at an affiliated hospital in Danville just a few days ahead.

The medical malpractice lawsuit claims that the patient had blood clots that were "easily diagnosable, treatable and entirely correctable." The hospital responded that its treatment was timely and appropriate and that the death was due to an unavoidable and untreatable outcome. Thus, the hospital is claiming that the woman's condition was fatal regardless of what the hospital did or didn't do. In New York and all other jurisdictions, the answer to that issue will be decided by the expert testimony that will be presented by each side and the jury's assessment of it, unless a settlement is agreed upon prior to trial.

Source:, Geisinger attorneys fight back against medical malpractice suit, Bob Kalinowski, Feb. 4, 2014

About the Author

Joseph F. Sullivan

Born in Jamaica, Queens to working class parents, Joseph Sullivan became the second member of his family to attend college and the first to obtain an advanced degree. He graduated cum laude from Temple University School of Law. While there, he was a writer and editor of the Temple Law Review. ...


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