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Doctor found guilty of medical malpractice for an affair

For most of us, when someone mentions the term medical malpractice a certain image comes to mind. Typically medical malpractice includes certain activities such as doctor's errors or surgical errors that harm a patient physically. Other examples of medical malpractice might include an unexpected complication or infection, but rarely is malpractice a romantic affair. Maryland residents might find the following malpractice piece interesting.

According to a recent report, a court found a New York doctor guilty of medical malpractice. The jury attributed 75 percent of fault to the doctor and awarded the victim damages. A midlevel court later upheld the medical malpractice verdict and the doctor's attorney is currently appealing the case to New York's top court. The woman received damages for mental distress, economic loss and punitive damages with an award of more than $400,000.

The attorney for the doctor alleged that the woman seduced the doctor, and that his marriage was destroyed as a result of the affair. The woman was a patient of the doctor. She was reportedly being treated for a gastrointestinal condition. The man's attorney agreed that the doctor's behavior was unethical, but does not believe it rises to the level of medical malpractice. How the appellate court will come down on this is yet to be seen.

Medical malpractice is a very complicated area of law. As the attorney for the doctor argues, typically to demonstrate a malpractice claim it must be proven that the activity of the physician had something to do with the treatment. Whether an extramarital affair rises to the level of malpractice in a situation not involving psychiatric or mental health care will be interesting to learn. This is a highly unusual case, which may have a significant effect on what constitutes malpractice.

Source: San Francisco Gate, "NY court weighs affair as medical malpractice," Michael Virtanen, Oct. 20, 2012

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