The skilled team of attorneys at Rheingold, Giuffra, Ruffo & Plotkin
LLP have a long history of success winning settlements and jury awards
for clients in medical malpractice claims. We have access to resources
such as expert witnesses that help present compelling cases for our clients.
Medical malpractice occurs when a negligent act or omission by a doctor
or other medical professional results in damage or harm to a patient.
Negligence by a medical professional could include an error in diagnosis,
treatment or illness management. If such negligence results in injury
to a patient, a case could arise against the doctor if his or her actions
deviated from generally accepted standards of practice; against the hospital
for improper care, such as problems with medications, sanitation or nursing
care; or against local, state or federal agencies that operate hospital
Medical malpractice laws are designed to protect patients' rights to
compensation if they are injured as the result of negligence. However,
malpractice suits are often complex and costly to win. While theoretically
you can seek compensation for any injury caused by negligence, regardless
of its seriousness, time and money make it unrealistic to sue for an injury
that is minor or heals quickly. Therefore, if you believe you have a medical
malpractice claim, it is important to consult with an attorney at Rheingold,
Giuffra, Ruffo & Plotkin LLP in New York, NY, who can help you determine
whether your claim is worth pursuing.
Theories of liability in malpractice cases
Most medical malpractice cases proceed under the theory that a medical
professional was negligent in treating the patient. To establish medical
negligence, an injured patient, the plaintiff, must prove:
- The existence of a duty owed by the health care professional to the plaintiff
(for example, a doctor/patient relationship)
- The applicable standard of care, and the health care professional's
deviation from that standard, which is deemed a breach of the duty owed
to the patient
- A causal connection between the health care professional's deviation
from the standard of care and the patient's injury
- Injury or harm to the patient
One of the most important aspects of a medical malpractice action is establishing
the standard of care to be applied to the health care professional. To
find a medical professional legally at fault, it must be shown that his
or her conduct fell below a generally accepted standard of medical care.
To establish the standard to be applied, the plaintiff must present expert
testimony not only as to the standard of care applicable, but that also
establishes that the defendant failed to meet the standard. In cases where
the defendant's violation of a standard of medical care is so apparent
as to be comprehensible to the average person, expert testimony may not
Another element of medical malpractice actions, causation, is sometimes
difficult to establish. Specifically, the plaintiff must show that his
or her health care provider's deviation from the applicable standard
of care resulted in his or her injury. This is challenging because sometimes
there may be other factors that contributed to the plaintiff's eventual injury.
In many situations, the failure to obtain a patient's "informed
consent" relative to a procedure or treatment is a form of medical
negligence, and may even give rise to a cause of action for battery. Although
the specific definition of informed consent may vary from state to state,
it means essentially that a physician (or other medical provider) must
inform the patient of all potential benefits, risks and alternatives involved
in any surgical procedure, medical procedure or other course of treatment,
and must obtain the patient's consent to proceed.
Breach of contract or warranty
Although doctors very rarely promise specific results from procedures or
treatments, in some cases they do, and the failure to produce the promised
results may give rise to an action for breach of contract or breach of
warranty. For example, a plastic surgeon may promise a patient a certain
result, which result may be judged more easily than other types of medical
results, simply by viewing the patient. Similarly, if a patient is not
satisfied with the outcome of a procedure and the physician had guaranteed
or warranted a certain result, the patient may attempt to recover under
a theory of breach of warranty.
Potential defendants in medical malpractice cases
Medical malpractice can be committed by several types of health care professionals,
including doctors, surgeons, nurses, technicians and other hospital workers.
In a case where a hospital employee commits malpractice, the hospital
itself may be held liable under the legal doctrine of "respondeat
superior." Under this theory, an employer may be held liable for
the negligent acts of its employee if the employee was acting within the
scope of his or her employment when the negligent act or omission occurred.
This doctrine is important to plaintiffs in medical malpractice cases
because it helps ensure there will be a financially responsible party
to compensate an injured plaintiff.
Contact a medical malpractice lawyer
In general, there are no guarantees of medical results. An unanticipated
or unsuccessful result from medical treatment or surgery does not, in
itself, mean that medical malpractice has been committed. Nonetheless,
if you believe you may have been the victim of medical malpractice, you
should meet with an experienced attorney at Rheingold, Giuffra, Ruffo
& Plotkin LLP in New York, NY, as soon as possible to discuss the
facts of your case and receive a professional evaluation of your situation.