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Claim that botched cosmetic surgery led to lost of vision. Bahnyuk v. Reed, 2018 N.Y. Slip Op. 32599 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2018)

In a medical malpractice case resulting from cosmetic surgery, the plaintiff claims that her doctor deviated from accepted medical practice and as a result, she suffered a serious injury.
Background Facts
On March 24, 2015, Dr. Reed performed several cosmetic procedures onĀ  the plaintiff. These included breast augmentation, fat injections to the buttocks, liposculpture to the calves and ankles, and fat injections to the face. The medical malpractice claim specifically focused on the facial fat injections. The plaintiff claimed that Dr. Reed negligently performed this procedure, causing the fat to travel to the central retinal artery, resulting in a blockage and loss of vision in her left eye.

The plaintiff’s allegations were supported by an expert affirmation, which identified two main departures from the standard of care. First, Dr. Reed allegedly failed to aspirate during each injection of fat into her face. Second, he allegedly injected too large an amount of fat at too high a pressure. These actions were claimed to be the proximate cause of her injury.

Whether Dr. Reed’s actions constituted medical malpractice. Specifically, the court needed to determine if Dr. Reed deviated from accepted medical practice by failing to aspirate and by injecting excessive amounts of fat at high pressure, and whether these actions caused Ms. Youssef’s injury.

The court partially granted Dr. Reed’s motion for summary judgment. It dismissed the portion of the plaintiff’s medical malpractice claim based on the allegation that Dr. Reed injected too large an amount of fat at too high a pressure. However, the court denied the motion regarding the allegation that Dr. Reed failed to aspirate during each injection into her face.

In support of his motion for partial summary judgment, Dr. Reed presented the expert affirmation of Dr. Karol A. Gutkowski, a plastic surgeon. Dr. Gutkowski reviewed the medical records, deposition testimonies, and other pertinent documents. She suggested that Dr. Reed’s technique in aspirating before injecting the fat was proper and adhered to standard medical practices. Dr. Reed testified that he used a technique of drawing back the plunger to ensure he was not near a blood vessel, thus attempting to prevent fat from entering the bloodstream.

Despite this, Dr. Gutkowski acknowledged that even with proper aspiration, the risk of fat entering a blood vessel and causing an occlusion could not be entirely eliminated. The court found this explanation insufficient to establish Dr. Reed’s prima facie entitlement to summary judgment on the issue of aspiration. Since it was undisputed that the fat reached Ms. Youssef’s central retinal artery, causing her injury, the court held that Dr. Reed failed to conclusively prove that he properly aspirated.

On the second departure, Dr. Gutkowski opined that the amounts of fat injected and the pressure used were appropriate. She detailed Dr. Reed’s technique, including the use of small aliquots of fat and specific syringe and needle sizes that complied with the standard of care. The court found Dr. Gutkowski’s detailed analysis sufficient to establish a prima facie case that Dr. Reed did not deviate from the standard of care regarding the amount and pressure of fat injected.

The plaintiff’s expert merely stated that the fat entered her facial vasculature due to Dr. Reed’s failure to avoid injecting too large an amount of fat at high pressure. This conclusory statement did not sufficiently rebut Dr. Gutkowski’s detailed analysis. As a result, the court granted Dr. Reed’s motion for partial summary judgment on this aspect of the malpractice claim.

Medical malpractice cases can be complex and challenging. If you or a loved one has suffered due to a medical professional’s negligence, it is essential to seek legal advice from an experienced New York medical malpractice lawyer who can help you navigate the legal process, gather necessary evidence, and advocate for your rights.

At Stephen Bilkis & Associates, our dedicated team of medical malpractice lawyers understands the intricacies of medical procedures and the legal standards required to prove malpractice. Our goal is to provide you with the support and representation you need to seek justice and compensation for your injuries. If you believe you have a medical malpractice claim, do not hesitate to contact us for a free consultation.

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