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Filing a medical malpractice suit in New York

New York residents probably will be shocked to learn that preventable medical errors are now the third leading cause of death in America, accounting for over 250,000 deaths each year. These alarming statistics appeared in a 2016 report summarizing the conclusions reached by researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

When medical malpractice leads to death, the family of a deceased patient often files a wrongful death lawsuit against the negligent person and/or facility. In cases of nonfatal medical malpractice, the injured patient himself or herself often files a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Definition of medical malpractice

The New York City Bar defines medical malpractice, also called medical negligence, as a doctor, health care professional, hospital, or health care facility killing or injuring a patient by failing to care for him or her in accordance with accepted medical standards of practice. Medical malpractice can take many forms, including the following:

  • Failure to diagnose or misdiagnosing a patient’s symptoms
  • Failure to monitor a patient’s progress
  • Improper treatment
  • Failure to inform a patient about the risks of a specific treatment or procedure
  • Prescription medication errors
  • Emergency room and/or surgical errors

Elements of a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

A medical malpractice lawsuit is a civil suit seeking money damages as compensation for the injured person’s losses. In order to prevail in a medical malpractice suit in New York, the plaintiff must prove the following three things:

  1. The patient was under the care of a licensed physician.
  2. The physician and/or another health care professional and/or the medical facility failed to advise, diagnose, and/or treat the patient as similarly situated doctors and medical facilities would have done in a similar situation.
  3. The patient was injured, became ill, or suffered a worsening condition as the result of the medical negligence.

In New York, a plaintiff has 2-1/2 years from the date of the alleged medical malpractice in which to file a lawsuit. However, in the event the malpractice was leaving a foreign object inside the patient’s body, such as a surgical clamp, the plaintiff has one year from the date he or she discovered or reasonably should have discovered the object, whichever comes first, to file his or her claim.

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