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Third Party Malpractice Case Allowed to Proceed

Most malpractice cases involve a patient or their family suing a doctor or medical institution. But can a separate third party file a malpractice suit against a hospital for something their patient did? The New York Court of Appeals just ruled on such a case, and they’re allowing the malpractice suit to go forward.

Here’s the situation. A patient at South Nassau Communities Hospital was given opioid narcotics and anti-anxiety drugs intravenously. Two hours later, the patient was driving home, crossed a double-yellow line, and hit a bus. The bus driver sued the hospital saying that they should have warned the patient that the drugs could impair her ability to drive.

The hospital says they have a duty of care to warn the patient that a drug can cause impairment, but that duty doesn’t extend to third parties. In a 4-2 decision, the Court of Appeals do say that doctors have a duty of care to explain the dangers of drugged driving that extends to third parties. Now the malpractice case can continue.

While most DUI cases happen because of alcohol or illegal drugs, there are some legal prescription drugs that can cause people to become intoxicated. Opioids are one such class. If a patient didn’t understand what was being put into an IV before being released, that can put themselves and others at risk and make medical providers liable.

If you are seeking advice about whether to file a malpractice lawsuit, contact Bottar Leone for a consultation.