Court Rules that Third Party Can Sue Hospital for Medical Malpractice
When it comes to needing a medical malpractice lawyer in New York, most assume that this is only necessary if their troubles are directly associated with a doctor that personally treated them. However, a case has been presented that could extend the workload of any medical malpractice lawyer. If a doctor fails to properly inform a patient about medication side effects and the patient harms another person as a result, the person the patient harmed could possibly bring a malpractice suit against the doctor.
In Davis v. South Nassau Communities Hospital, this is what happened and while it took several appeals, the third party in the case was able to bring suit. To recap what happened that brought on this suit, it was as follows:
Ms. Walsh went to the emergency room due to experiencing stomach. On March 4, 2009, the doctor caring for her administered Dilaudid, a powerful pain medication. Ms. Walsh was shortly after discharged from the hospital, still under the influence of this pain medication. According to the suit, the doctor never told Ms. Walsh that she should not operate a vehicle when using this medication because it has the ability to impair her ability to drive. Ms. Walsh proceeded to get into her vehicle so that she could drive home.
As she was driving home, she struck a vehicle after veering into oncoming traffic. Edward Davis was the person struck by Ms. Walsh and he was injured as a result of this accident. Once he learned of why Ms. Walsh caused the accident, he hired a New York medical malpractice lawyer and brought a suit against the doctor and the hospital. The suit alleges that the doctor and hospital were negligent due to not informing Ms. Walsh that she should not drive when taking the medication Dilaudid. He alleges that if the doctor had informed Ms. Walsh, she would not have driven. Had she not driven, she would not have veered and struck Mr. Davis, causing him injuries.
With 51,546 adverse events reported between 2004 and 2014, according to the Human Resources and Services Administration, Ms. Walsh should have been informed about what could happen should she operate a motor vehicle, according to Mr. Davis. The suit was initially dismissed on the grounds of lacking legal merit. Davis went to the Appellate Division to appeal and the dismissal was affirmed. This division stated that medical providers do not have a duty to prevent third party injuries.
Mr. Davis then took his case to the Court of Appeals, the highest court in the state. The Court of Appeals in New York came down with a 4-2 decision that Davis’ claim was permissible. This Court said that if a physician does not provide adequate warning to a patient that the medications they were administered could impair their driving ability, an injured third party does have the ability to sue the physician and the hospital as a result of negligence.