In one of the first appellate decisions of 2012, the Third Department allowed a plaintiff in a wrongful death action, which arose from medical malpractice, to pursue a claim for punitive damages where the plaintiff alleged abandonment and where the medical staff failed to take certain precautions before administering medication. Marsh v. Arnot Ogden Medical Center, 2012 WL 87957 (3d Dep’t). The court acknowledged that certain medical facilities are not putting patient safety as their top priority and stated, “[a] medical facility’s failure to provide appropriate safety precautions and training may constitute a basis for a punitive damages award if shown to constitute conscious disregard for patient safety.” (Citations omitted). Id.
Hospitals that have chosen to prioritize patient safety have seen incidences of medical malpractice drop precipitously. It is in both the patients’ and their physicians’ best interests to continue to emphasize patient safety in all medical facilities.