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New York surgeon prevails in first of more than 250 lawsuits

Doctors, nurses and surgeons are supposed to be on the lookout for infections whenever a patient complains of pain. A doctor's failure to diagnose an infection can have catastrophic consequences, and injured patients or their families need to be aware of their rights under current medical malpractice law.

A medical negligence case involving a knee infection was recently decided in Westchester County. The wife of a man who died in 2008 sued the surgeon who took a fluid sample from the man's knee. However, the surgeon chose not to send the sample off to be tested for infection. The 78-year-old patient died the month following his visit with the surgeon.

An expert witness testified that the surgeon failed to provide the standard of care when he didn't have the fluid sample tested. The wife's lawsuit accused the surgeon, another doctor and two medical facilities of medical malpractice. A judge dismissed the claims against all of the defendants except the surgeon.

Through her lawsuit, the grieving wife sought $1 million in compensation for various expenses left in the wake of her husband's death. The jury hearing the case deliberated over the course of a couple of days, but in the end, the jurors found that the surgeon had not deviated from the standard of care. However, the surgeon is still facing more than 250 more lawsuits.

Earlier in March, he was sentenced to federal prison after being convicted of insurance fraud. He is currently being electronically monitored by authorities.

The jury's decision in this first medical malpractice case underscores the challenges plaintiffs can face in proving medical negligence, even when common sense seems to point directly to such negligence. To prevail in a medical malpractice case, injured parties or their families should be aware of every available legal option.

Source: Poughkeepsie Journal, "After 1 win, Panos still faces over 250 lawsuits," John Davis, March 28, 2014

Source: Poughkeepsie Journal, "Panos trial: No verdict today, jury to reconvene Thursday," John W. Barry and Nina Schutzman, March 26, 2014

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