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The Importance of Properly Pleading New Mexico Medical Malpractice Allegations in the Initial Complaint

Posted in Firm News

Medical malpractice cases may be filed against any medical professional, including doctors, nurses, or hospital administrators. New Mexico medical malpractice claims must follow strict requirements or risk being dismissed without ever being heard. This includes filing the claim by the appropriate deadline, including all of the necessary facts in the initial complaint, and drafting the complaint such that it provides notice of the allegations to the defendant. A recent case illustrates how important properly pleading medical malpractice allegations can be, as well as the repercussions for failing to do so.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a breast cancer survivor, who was discussing reconstructive surgery with the defendant doctor. However, due to the radiation that the plaintiff received to treat the breast cancer, there were certain risks associated with the procedure. Her left breast, specifically, received the radiation treatment.

Initially, the plaintiff wanted the doctor to operate on both of her breasts. However, after thinking about the risks involved, she decided to only proceed with the surgery on her right breast. She proceeded to have the defendant perform the surgery, but there was some miscommunication between the plaintiff and the defendant, and the defendant operated on both breasts. The defendant later claimed that he was not made aware that the plaintiff had changed her mind, and he presented his records indicating as much.

Unfortunately, the plaintiff suffered serious complications in her left breast after the surgery. She then filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant, specifically alleging that the defendant “negligently” operated on the wrong breast. After the statute of limitations had run, the plaintiff attempted to amend her complaint to include a claim for medical battery. (Medical battery claims are based on a defendant performing a procedure or surgery without a patient’s permission.) However, the court prevented the amendment because it was not made in a timely manner, and the case proceeded on the medical malpractice claims only.

After the parties had finished presenting their evidence, the plaintiff asked that the court instruct the jury on the medical battery theory of liability. The court did so over the defendant’s objection, and the jury returned a verdict in the plaintiff’s favor. The defendant appealed.

On appeal, the jury’s verdict was reversed. The court explained that the plaintiff’s complaint did not allege that the defendant had committed medical battery, and the trial court was in error to instruct the jury that it could base its verdict on that theory.

Have You Been a Victim of Negligent Medical Care?

If you believe that you or a loved one has recently been a victim of negligent medical care, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a New Mexico medical malpractice lawsuit. The dedicated team of New Mexico personal injury lawyers at the Fine Law Firm have extensive experience handling all types of New Mexico medical malpractice claims, and they know what it takes to be successful on behalf of their clients. Call 505-889-FINE to schedule a free consultation with an attorney today.

More Blog Posts:

New Mexico’s Dram Shop Liability Statute Can Help Victims of Drunk Driving Accidents Fully Recover for Their Injuries, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, August 9, 2017.

Court Finds Driver’s Act of Waving Plaintiff Forward to Make Left Turn Was Not the Cause of Subsequent Accident, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, August 25, 2017.