The NY State Department of Health criticized the care my mother received from the hospital. Why would I need to go to trial if an independent State agency already investigated and found in my favor?
The Department of Health conducts investigations where complaints are made or terrible outcomes occur both in hospitals and while under the care of private physicians. The purpose of their investigations is to protect the public well-being, by making sure that certain problems or errors to do not recur.
In some instances, the Department of Health conducts hearings and takes testimony from the different parties to come to conclusions about whether the standard of care was followed or breached.
In most cases, the findings and conclusions by the Department of Health is confidential and is designed to make sure these events do not happen again.
However, the Department of Health investigation is different from a civil trial for medical malpractice. The State Department of Health investigation can result in sanctions, fines, remedial measures and corrective action for the doctor or hospital. In some extreme cases it can result in the revocation of a doctor's license.
In a civil trial, you or your family are seeking money compensation for the treatment you claim was inappropriate and departed from good medical care. The standards by which the State investigates a case, and the standards by which a jury must decide if there is malpractice are technically different.
In some cases, we can use the findings of fact that the State investigators found during their investigation. Most of the time however, we are not permitted to use the conclusions in the State report at a civil trial, even though they may be critical of the care and treatment rendered to you or your family.