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If the New York State Department of Health renders a finding of deficiencies, can you use that in your trial in your favor?

 

A:

The answer is “maybe.”

Let me explain. If a complaint is filed with the New York State department of health and they determine that there were deficiencies with care and treatment rendered to you or your loved one in a hospital, the hospital is required to provide a corrective action plan in order to prevent these deficiencies from happening again in the future.

The mere fact that a deficiency was found does not in and of itself mean that you can use that information at trial to conclusively prove that the hospital did something wrong that caused your injury.

Why not?

To understand the reason you have to understand how the Department of Health goes ahead and investigates complaints.

They have specific investigators to go out to the hospital and try and talk to witnesses who were involved in your care and treatment. Then they have to review the medical records and come to their own conclusion about whether factually there was a sufficient basis to find deficiencies.

The standards by which investigators use to determine that there is or is no deficiency, tends to be different than the standard that is used in a civil lawsuit in NY seeking compensation for medical errors.

In some cases, we can have the New York State Department of Health findings of fact admitted into evidence. However, it is much more challenging to get the conclusions of the health department investigators admitted into your medical malpractice trial.