Smiley & Smiley, LLP

Jury awards $11.6 million in New York medical malpractice case

Medical malpractice is based on principles of negligence. In the context of a medical negligence suit, the primary legal question is whether the medical provider's course of treatment fell below minimum recognized standards of care imposed in the medical specialty in question. If that question is answered in the positive, then it must be asked whether the medical negligence that occurred was a substantial factor in causing the patient's injury or death. Both of those questions were answered affirmatively by a New York jury that recently entered a verdict of $11.6 million in favor of a former business owner  who claimed to be totally and permanently disabled due to the medical malpractice of a treating radiologist and the doctor's medical group.

The lawsuit alleged that the plaintiff went to Glens Falls Hospital in Jan. 2012, complaining of dizziness, and a headache and balance problems.  It alleged that a CT scan revealed a blockage in the blood vessel in the man's brain, pointing to a stroke. The defendant radiologist did not report the finding to the emergency room staff, and the man was released with a diagnosis of sinus infection.

The plaintiff suffered two strokes within the next two weeks. He had a business as a skilled machinist, which he lost. The company had been doing machinist work for the aerospace industry. The jury award included $7.5 million for pain and suffering. The plaintiff's experts likely testified that the radiologist was negligent in not observing the lesion in light of reasonable radiological skills that would be recognized in reading and interpreting such tests.

In a case where a diagnostic test is in question, it is important to obtain the original test film or other media for the plaintiff's expert to evaluate when preliminarily deciding whether medical malpractice exists. If a copy of the test findings will reflect the original as the defendant doctor would have observed it, that may be used in preliminary evaluations. Under New York law, the original must be turned over or made accessible to the plaintiff if a proper request is made, and the original test will generally be required for use at trial by both parties.

Source: poststar.com, "Local doctor, medical practice hit with $11.6 million verdict", Don Lehman, Feb. 9, 2016

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