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Should You File a Complaint with Department of Health while Starting a Medical Malpractice Case

You have suffered injuries because of your doctor's or hospital's carelessness and you are contemplating bringing a medical malpractice lawsuit. However, at the same time you are also considering filing a claim with the New York State Department of Health. Can this help you with your medical malpractice case?

Filing a Complaint with the Department of Health

The answer is that it might. Any injured victim has the opportunity to file a complaint with the NYS department of health. Once the department obtains the complaint, they have an obligation to investigate, and as part of their investigation, they will be sending somebody out to the hospital to question the various staff and the doctors who were involved in your care and treatment.

The department will then reach certain conclusions about whether or not there were violations of standard of care, or whether there violations of certain hospital protocol. If it turns out there were violations, the department may issue a statement of deficiencies, and they will require the hospital to prepare a corrective action plan, in order to make sure this type of violation does not happen again.

How does it Help Your Case?

Now, in your medical malpractice case, can you use this information, if the department has found deficiencies in the standard of care and protocol? Can you use the department's report at the trial of your medical malpractice case? The answer is maybe. There are certain limited instances where you can use the finding of fact by the department of health in your particular matter.

At trial, you have to show that you are more likely right than wrong, and that the staff or the hospital departed from the good and expected medical care. As part of the investigation that the department of health does, in limited instances, we can take certain findings of fact. We can take testimonies of people who carried out that investigation. We can explain to the jury what the investigative team did, if it helps in showing to the jury that we are more likely right than wrong.

In all likelihood, you may not be able to use the conclusions reached by the NYS department of health about the deficiencies and about the corrective actions that they were required to take. This is because at trial, the findings of the jury are valid, and so we will have to bring in medical experts to support our claim. Ultimately, it will be the jury's determination to decide, whether the hospital or the staff violated the basic standards of decent medical care.

The Proper Course of Action

Even though in most instances, you cannot use the conclusions of the investigations conducted by the NYS department of health, you might still be able to use the testimonies of the people who conducted the investigation to show to the jury that there was violation of basic standard of care or protocol. Hence, when you are filing a medical malpractice case, it would be a prudent and judicious idea to file a complaint with the NYS Department of Health, as well.

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