Medical Malpractice and Personal Injury Law Blog

Expert Witness doesn't Deliver in Medical Malpractice Appeal

Posted by Briggs Bedigian | Feb 09, 2017 | 0 Comments

Health care providers came out on the winning end of medical malpractice appeal that recently took place in New York. The plaintiffs, the parents of an infant, filed a medical malpractice lawsuit on behalf of their child based upon the claim that their health care provider failed to properly diagnose a brain tumor in a timely manner.

The lower court found for the defendants despite hearing testimony from the plaintiff's expert witness who claimed that the infant's neurological abnormality revealed itself in the form of months of vomiting, headaches, weight loss, muscle stiffness and arching of the back. The court ruled that most of the infant's symptoms were not discernable at the time of the initial examination and were not able to be detected until a neurological exam was performed much later.

The plaintiffs appealed the ruling. At the Appeals Court level, the court ruled that the plaintiffs failed to raise a triable issue of fact. The court felt that the expert witness' finding that the infant's condition could have been discovered and treated more successfully earlier had the doctors not deviated from the accepted standard of medical practice were conclusory and speculative. Further, it was proven that the witness recounted the infant's symptomatology inaccurately, which effectively undermined the basis of the testimony, failed to address the defense expert's opinions, and relied upon facts not contained in the record.

A judge stated in the ruling, “Since plaintiffs' expert's opinion is not supported by facts in record it is of no probative value, moreover, the expert's speculative opinion that a simple neurological exam would more likely than not have led to an earlier diagnosis of the infant's brain tumor reflects a reasoning back from the fact of injury to find negligence. Such hindsight reasoning is insufficient to defeat summary judgment.”

Medical malpractice cases are nuanced and require intricate planning and strategy. In that vein, expert testimony is often the most crucial element to proving a medical malpractice case because it is the expert that can establish what the applicable standard of care is and show how the defendants breached that standard of care in causing an injury to the patient. If an expert witness fails to do this, as seen in the New York case, it is almost impossible to achieve a successful outcome.

Medical malpractice can have devastating effects that last a lifetime. If you have been injured by a physician's neglect, attorneys Charles Gilman and Briggs Bedigian will work to get you the full compensation to which you are entitled. Call 800-529-6162 today or contact them online for a free case evaluation. They handle cases in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.

About the Author

Briggs Bedigian

H. Briggs Bedigian (“Briggs”) is a founding partner of Gilman & Bedigian, LLC.  Prior to forming Gilman & Bedigian, LLC, Briggs was a partner at Wais, Vogelstein and Bedigian, LLC, where he was the head of the firm's litigation practice.  Briggs' legal practice is focused on representing clients involved in medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. 

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