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Medical malpractice claim upheld in high court

When Connecticut residents go to a doctor, they are placing complete trust in that medical professional. A patient is a vulnerable individual, relying entirely on the doctor to inspect his or her mind or body and assist in the healing process. This is why a romantic relationship between a medical professional and his or her patient may be viewed asa breach of professional duty. A state appellate court recently addressed such an issue in a medical malpractice claim.

A married patient visited a doctor for treatment of anxiety and depression. From these visits, a nine-month affair ensued. While this affair was ongoing, the doctor also treated the patient, prescribing treatments and medications for various conditions, including anxiety and depression. The affair allegedly ended in 2002.

In 2005, the patient brought suit in New York against the doctor for medical malpractice. A lower court held in favor of the woman. The jury awarded her $338,000 in general damages plus $166,000 in punitive damages. However, the jury attributed 25 percent fault to the woman.

The New York Court of Appeals upheld the jury's award in general damages for sexual misconduct, but stripped the punitive damages. The high court also determined that because the affair was ongoing and voluntary by both parties for nine months, the female patient was somewhat at fault. However, partial fault on a plaintiff does not negate ability to recover compensation for injuries stemming from the incidences. In this case, the woman was able to recover 75 percent of the $338,000 award.

Source: ctpost,com, "NY court says affair is medical malpractice," Michael Virtanan, Associated Press, Nov. 29, 2012

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