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Can An Unsuccessful Procedure Be Considered Malpractice?

When you have a medical procedure completed and it does not go as planned, you may be wondering if you should think about filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. Generally speaking, the fact that a procedure was unsuccessful does not necessarily mean that the healthcare provider committed malpractice. However, an unsuccessful procedure can be the result of a medical error or medical negligence. Determining whether an unsuccessful procedure is the result of medical negligence can be difficult and even impossible without discussing the specific facts of your case with a New York medical malpractice lawyer.

We want to provide you with more general information about unsuccessful procedures and malpractice claims, but we also want to emphasize that it is extremely important to talk with a medical negligence lawyer in Albany about your case.

Procedures Can Be Unsuccessful Even When Your Healthcare Provider Was Not Negligence

Certain medical procedures are riskier than others. Indeed, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), some types of medical procedures simply have greater risks than others, and particular patients can be at greater risk of complications in a procedure even when healthcare providers take all possible safety precautions. 

In other words, sometimes certain procedures—especially surgeries—can be risky, even if your surgeon is as careful and attentive as possible. Accordingly, when a surgery results in a complication or an injury, it could mean that your healthcare provider was negligent, but a medical error is not the only reason for an unsuccessful procedure. When, then, does an unsuccessful procedure constitute malpractice?

Elements of a Medical Malpractice Claim in New York

A patient must prove the following elements in a successful medical malpractice claim:

  • Healthcare provider owed the patient a duty of care (typically established simply by virtue of the fact that the injury victim is a patient of the healthcare provider);
  • Healthcare provider breached the duty of care;
  • Breach of the duty of care caused the patient’s injuries; and
  • Patient suffered damages.

What is considered to be a breach of the duty of care? Generally speaking, a healthcare provider is considered to breach his or her duty of care—to have acted negligently—is another healthcare provider in a similar field, under similar circumstances, and in the same geographic region would have considered this particular healthcare provider’s actions or behavior to be unreasonable and a deviation from the acceptable standards of care. In other words, another healthcare provider in a similar field, under similar circumstances, and in the same geographic region would have behaved differently under the circumstances.

Proving That Another Healthcare Provider in a Similar Field and Geographic Region Would Have Acted Differently

There are, in general, two different types of scenarios in which an unsuccessful procedure may be considered malpractice. Both scenarios involve a healthcare provider failing to act in a manner that another healthcare provider in a similar field, under similar circumstances, and in a similar geographic region would consider reasonable. Those include:

  • Healthcare provider failed to warn patient about the risks of the surgery or procedure; or
  • Healthcare provider behaved in a manner during the procedure that was negligent.

Filing a Claim Within the New York Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice Cases

If you suffered an injury linked to medical negligence you may be able to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. However, you should keep in mind that New York law only gives you a limited time to file your claim. The statute of limitations in most medical malpractice claims is 2.5 years from the date of the initial injury. While patients often know immediately that a medical error has occurred and that they have suffered an injury, the date of malpractice may not be as clear in other scenarios. For example, if multiple healthcare providers fail to accurately diagnose a condition and the injury results from a delayed diagnosis, the date when the statute of limitations clock starts “ticking” can be more complicated to determine, but a Rochester medical negligence lawyer can help.

Once you know the date of the incident that is giving rise to your claim, you must file a lawsuit within 2.5 years or else risk your claim becoming time-barred. In some cases, the statute of limitations may be extended to 2.5 years from the date that the patient discovers (or reasonably should have discovered) the harm, especially in a delayed cancer diagnosis case. However, you should not assume you have additional time to file your claim and should speak with an advocate as soon as possible.

Contact an Albany Medical Malpractice Lawyer

If you got hurt after undergoing a medical procedure, you may be eligible to file a claim for compensation. It is difficult to know whether your injury arose out of malpractice, however, without speaking directly with an experienced Albany medical malpractice attorney.

An experienced and aggressive advocate at our firm can assess your case today and discuss your options for moving forward with a malpractice claim. While not all unsuccessful procedures will constitute malpractice, many will. Contact Powers & Santola, LLP today to learn more about how we represent injured patients in Albany, Syracuse, and Rochester, NY.

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