New York’s Top Court: Romance Can Mean Malpractice

The highest court in New York State issued a decision recently that addresses an angle of medical malpractice that’s probably never crossed your mind.

A romantic affair between doctor and patient equates to malpractice committed by the doctor, according to the Nov. 27 decision by the Court of Appeals. The decision upheld roughly $250,000 in damages awarded to a woman who sued her therapist after their nine-month-long affair led her husband to file for divorce.

A Lesson in the Law, With a Chuckle

We typically associate medical malpractice with medical errors or negligence by medical professionals, and this case reminds us that an error in judgment is no different. The doctor, who treated the woman for anxiety and depression, is obligated to pursue ethical and effective treatment, and the Court of Appeals ruled a sexual relationship between the two could reasonably interfere with that treatment.

The judges, though, found that 25% of the fault lay with the woman for her active role in continuing the affair. They also stripped additional punitive damages awarded by a lower court, leaving her total compensation around $250,000.

A Higher Standard

Most of us will never find ourselves the victim of medical malpractice, and even fewer of us will be involved in an affair with our doctor. But this does not lessen the point that doctors, and some other professionals, must be held to higher standards due to the sensitivity of their position. The harm they can cause can be devastating.

If a doctor’s negligence or error has harmed yourself or a loved one, you should speak with an attorney. Contact us for a free consultation to discuss your case.

Ted Oshman


Ted Oshman has been with The Oshman Firm since 1988 serving clients for over 25 years. Learn more about Ted's background and featured practice areas here.

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