Articles Posted in Staten Island

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Defendants New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) and Dr. PN (collectively defendants) move for summary judgment, dismissing plaintiff’s complaint insofar as asserted against them.

In this medical malpractice action, plaintiff alleges that defendants deviated from accepted standards of medical care while he was being treated in the hospital for severe injuries he sustained in an automobile accident. The Manhattan plaintiff alleges, among other things, that defends its improperly and negligently positioned and restrained his wrists, failed to monitor the effects of the restraints, negligently failed to perform physical therapy on him, and negligently caused his arms to become paralyzed and non-functional.

On December 29, 2004, plaintiff, then age 62, was driving his vehicle when it struck trees, a fence and landed in a courtyard, ejecting him from the driver’s side window. Plaintiff sustained various injuries, including a hemorrhage of the head, a crushed left leg from his foot to hip, and multiple lacerations and abrasions. EMS brought plaintiff to Kings County Hospital emergency room, where plaintiff was described as alert, combative, and intoxicated. Plaintiff was intubated and x-rays and abdominal/pelvic ct-scans were performed. Plaintiff sustained fractures of the pelvis, left femur, and left tibia/fibula, and had internal bleeding.

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This appeal involves new legislation that concerns medical malpractice actions. The issue before the Supreme Court Appellate Division is whether or not the plaintiff’s failure to timely file a notice of the medical malpractice action was properly excused by the Supreme Court.

Case Facts

In March of 1986, the Queens plaintiff individually and as the administrator of her deceased infant’s estate started this action to recover damages for her daughter’s death as well as the conscious pain and suffering predicated by the Staten Island defendant physician’s alleged medical malpractice that resulted in the death of the infant.

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The Staten Island plaintiff in this case is appealing an order made in the Supreme Court of Kings County. The order that is being appealed by the plaintiff denied his motion for summary judgment and granted summary judgment to the defendant dismissing the complaint as made against the defendant. The entire case stems from an underlying medical malpractice suit.

Court Discussion

Under the plain language of the insurance policy in question the plaintiff is not covered for contractual liability that was assumed by entering into service agreements with the independent contractors in the case. However, the plaintiff could have been held vicariously liable for the actions of the independent contractors and for that reason the plaintiff is entitled to recover his legal costs for defending against his own liability.

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The Queens defendant is appealing an order that declared they had the obligation to defend and indemnify the plaintiff in an action against him by the administratrix of the estate of the deceased. The order that is being appealed denied the cross motion for summary judgment and declared that the insurance policies in question were in full force and effect and invoked the duty of the defendant to defend.

Case Background

The plaintiff applied to the defendant insurance association for professional liability insurance coverage in January of 1981. The insurance association made an error that resulted in the policy not being issued until June of 1982. There were two policies issued at this time. The first policy was in effect from February of 1981 through February of 1982 and is referred to as the 1981 policy. The second policy was in effect from February 1982 through February 1983 and is referred to as the 1982 policy.

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Appellant Hospital appeals an order issued by an administrative law judge [“ALJ”] finding that claimant was not subject to compensation under the Florida Birth-Related Neurological Injury Compensation Plan [“the plan”], because she was not permanently and substantially “mentally impaired” within the meaning of the plan. Appellants contend that, based on certain undisputed facts, she was permanently and substantially mentally impaired as a matter of law.

The minor child was born at Florida Hospital in Altamonte Springs, Florida, on November 28, 1997. She was deprived of oxygen during birth and sustained serious birth injuries. An expert said that, her parents filed an action for medical malpractice in Seminole County circuit court against the appellant Hospital, as well as the two physicians who provided obstetrical services to the child’s mother, and Mid-Florida OB/GYN Specialists, Inc. Both obstetricians were “participating physicians” under the plan and the hospital was a participating hospital, but the parents did not file or pursue a claim for benefits under the plan.

An Injury Lawyer said that, the Florida Birth-Related Neurological Injury Compensation Association [“NICA”] intervened in the circuit court action, claiming that the child’s birth injuries were subject to the plan. The circuit court abated the action and required the parents to file a petition with the Division of Administrative Hearings to resolve whether the child was covered by the plan. The NICA statute defines “birth-related neurological injury” to mean an injury which, among other things, renders the infant both “permanently and substantially mentally and physically impaired.” The parents’ position was that the child did not meet the criteria for coverage under the plan because, although she had suffered significant physical impairments, she had not sustained a permanent and substantial mental impairment.

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On September 21, 1982, the Queens complainant 32-year-old woman visited her accused gynecologist for her annual check-up. At that time, the gynecologist made note of a one-centimeter mass on the outside lower quadrant of the woman’s left breast which he tentatively classified as a galactocele or a milk-filled cyst, but no further tests were performed. Ten months later, the woman returned to her Staten Island gynecologist complaining of a painful lump in her left breast and a swelling under her left arm. Following a mammography and other examinations, the mass in the woman’s breast was diagnosed as cancer which had metastasized or spread, to three ribs and two vertebrae. The woman died nearly two years later, as a result of the extensive metastasis of the cancer leaving as the sole beneficiary of her estate her then four-year-old daughter.

At the time her condition was first diagnosed, she was in the process of obtaining a divorce from her husband who contributed nothing toward her own or her child’s support. Although after the birth of her daughter, she had discontinued working outside the home, she was certified as a teacher for kindergarten through twelfth grade and had been a permanent substitute teacher in the Lawrence school district for one and one-half years prior to her daughter’s birth. She held undergraduate degrees in art education and psychology and was working toward obtaining an advanced degree in psychology in preparation for a child psychology program. She had always been a very self-sufficient and independent person. She had fully participated in the daily activities of her child. Because of her rapidly deteriorating physical condition and the negative effects of the medical treatment, the woman’s life changed to a tragically radical degree. She initially underwent two months of hormone therapy which was discontinued when she stopped responding. She began experiencing excruciating pain in her right leg which was determined to be caused by an additional lesion. She was then placed on a program of pain killers including morphine and methadone which her treating physician testified only dulled the recognition of pain in the brain but did not eliminate the pain. She also received a combination of five chemotherapy drugs which caused debilitating side effects. She became constipated, weak and tired, suffered from insomnia and began losing weight at the rate of two or three pounds per week. Her bones became very brittle and she was warned by her physicians to be very careful to avoid breaking them. In fact, she had to be hospitalized on three separate occasions for hypocalcaemia which is an elevation of calcium in the blood causing sleeplessness, lethargy, confusion, difficulty in walking, severe dehydration and ultimately death. The continuous vomiting caused by the chemotherapy resulted in dental infections and the loss of six teeth which she had to have extracted with only a minimal amount of novacaine due to the chemotherapy.

The woman became a virtual invalid. She relied on a homemaker, her friends and family to care for her child, to shop for her, to clean her house, to prepare meals and to drive her to the hospital. She had no physical strength. She was too weak to pick up her daughter or to perform any type of housework. Moreover, because of her weakened bones, she was afraid to go to any crowded places such as a train station or shopping mall for fear of being hit in her ribs or vertebrae. In any event, she was physically unable to shop for herself. Her social life became nonexistent.

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Medical malpractice lawsuits can be sought for many different reasons. Some of them involve birth injury, and some, like the present case involve the care of the elderly. Elderly care homes in New York are governed by many laws, the application of these laws can differ depending on the court system. When a party to a case feels that the rights of one of the parties has been violated, or the laws in the case have been misapplied, it becomes the job of the Supreme Court to evaluate the outcome and decide if the case needs to be reviewed.

In February of 2009, an elderly woman from Queens was living as a long term patient of a nursing home in Rochester, New York. One of the issues that placed her in the care of the home involved a bladder problem. This woman was unable to void her bladder without the assistance of a catheter. Therefore, every day, she had to wait on one of the staff of the home to come and help her to urinate. One night, the staff member failed to come to the aid of the woman. She was desperate for relief and decided that she would exit her bed by herself and attempt to go to the bathroom. When she stood up from her bed, her bladder released causing a puddle on the floor of her room near her bed. She slipped in the puddle and suffered from severe injuries including broken bones. She was not treated for her injuries until her son in law arrived several days later. Her son in law is a doctor. When she told him about the injury and that she was in horrible pain from it, he had her transported by ambulance to the hospital. It was only at that time, that the extent of her injuries were revealed. Her family was distraught that their mother had not received the minimum standard of care that was expected. They filed a medical malpractice lawsuit in her behalf. They used as a standard for their contentions that the public health laws had been violated a case that involved another patient of a long term care nursing facility.

This woman was a young woman who was in a persistent vegetative state. The case is referred to as Doe. The reason that her mother filed a lawsuit alleging violations of the public health laws was that her daughter had been injured in an automobile accident. She was in a persistent vegetative state when it became apparent that she was pregnant. Since she had been a resident of a long term home for more than a year at that point, it was obvious that she had been raped while in their care. She delivered a baby boy by caesarian section. DNA evidence was used to determine which employee of the facility had raped her. Her mother’s contention was that her daughter did not receive the minimum standard of care for a patient in her condition as evidenced by the fact that one of the staff had raped and impregnated her. She proved her point and won her lawsuit. The case is now used as a precedent for nursing home violations. The public health law was instituted to prevent the types of abuses that were evidenced in the current case and the case of Doe. In order to insure that our loved ones who by necessity are bedridden and in a long term home facility, laws that govern insufficient care are important. Nursing homes in Staten Island must be accountable for any abuse or neglect that may occur on their property. However, because the laws are so complicated as they relate to nursing home abuse, it is important for anyone who believes that their loved one has been treated inappropriately to contact an attorney.

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On April 6, 2007, the New York State Emergency Medical Services (EMS) responded to a call just before ten at night to an apartment on Colonial Road in Brooklyn. The call was related to a twenty-five year old woman bleeding vaginally. Upon their arrival, the EMS team noticed that there was blood in the shower area and that the young woman who was seated on the commode was bleeding from her vagina. She was cold and clammy and was transported immediately. The EMS team asked her if she was pregnant or if she could be pregnant. She stated that she was not. However, upon admittance into the hospital at Lutheran Medical Center, the doctors discovered that it was clear that she had recently given birth to a child. The woman refused to admit that she had delivered a baby.

The hospital personnel contacted the police department to locate the baby. The police officers returned to the apartment and questioned the sister of the woman who was in the hospital. They told her that the hospital had said that there was a baby and that they needed to check on the welfare of the child. They repeatedly asked the sister where the baby was. She denied that there was a baby, but finally told them that there were several garbage bags outside in the cold night air behind the apartment. When the officers examined the contents of the garbage bags, they discovered the body of a newborn infant girl in the trash. She was still alive, but showing no signs of life other than being pink in color. She was intubated and transferred to the hospital for emergency medical care. The infant died shortly after arrival. Her cause of death was from exposure to the cold and hypoxia brought on by being tied up in a garbage bag.

The young woman was charged with homicide in causing the death of her newborn infant. The defense attorney filed a motion to suppress the evidence that was collected by the police officers because they contend that it should be excluded from the case under the exclusionary rule. Their contention was based on the idea that the police officers had responded to the location without a warrant and had located the infant based on confidential medical information that was illegally obtained.

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Two teenagers underwent heart treatment when they were young children. As a direct result of this treatment they suffered from brain damage. Both of these teenagers were treated at hospitals in Bristol.

These teenagers have been awarded half a million pounds each to compensate for medical negligence. The money was awarded as a settlement from the Bristol Healthcare NHS Trust in the United Kingdom. The report noted that the money is awarded to help deal with ongoing medical expenses, and prior suffering and treatment expenses.

The standard of surgery conducted by a pediatric cardiac unit in Bristol was called into question almost ten years ago. A public enquiry was conducted to look specifically at the risks. The report found some startling results. The Lawyer has obtained a copy of the public enquiry report which shows just how serious the scandal really was.

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The husband of a wife who has suffered brain damage is suing the hospital for medical negligence. The husband is the chair of the Irish Recorded Music Association and a prominent member of the community noted the report.

The husband of the patient is suing the Health Service Executive in relation to the treatment that his wife received. The Staten Island doctor and consultant are also involved in the lawsuit. The patient experienced a loss of memory and depression due to bran damage caused by the operation.

The husband claims that his wife’s entire personality has been changed. She was very confident and outgoing when they first met. Now though, she is very different. She is more vulnerable and delicate. She is also left unable to work because of the injuries sustained which resulted in permanent brain damage.

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