In an action to recover damages for medical malpractice, the defendant appeals from an order of the Supreme Court, Queens County, dated May 4, 2006, which denied his motion for summary judgment dismissing the complaint insofar as asserted against him. On November 11, 1999 the 26-month-old plaintiff was seen by the defendant doctor who diagnosed viral tonsillitis and prescribed medications to alleviate her symptoms. Later that day, the plaintiff developed additional symptoms and was admitted to Elmhurst Hospital Center (hereinafter Elmhurst) on November 12, 1999. The admitting diagnosis was pneumonia based upon a chest X-ray and blood test. During the plaintiff’s 13-day hospital stay, various antibiotic treatments were administered. Shortly after the plaintiff’s discharge from the hospital on November 24, 1999 her mother noticed that the plaintiff did not respond to speech and sound, indicating hearing loss, which was ultimately determined to be complete and permanent.
A Queens Lawyer said that, in 2002 the plaintiff, by her mother, commenced the instant action against the defendant Health & Hospitals Corporation, alleging negligent failure to diagnose and treat meningitis, causing the plaintiff’s permanent hearing loss. In 2005, after defendant doctor was deposed as a nonparty witness, the plaintiff filed an amended complaint adding him as a defendant and alleging that he negligently failed to test for meningitis during the plaintiff’s office visit on November 11, 1999. A Lawyer said that, the Supreme Court denied defendant doctor’s motion for summary judgment dismissing the complaint insofar as asserted against him, holding that conflicting expert medical opinion evidence raised a triable issue of fact.
The issue in this case is whether defendant doctor should be held liable for medical malpractice together with defendant Health & Hospitals Corporation.
The NYC Court in deciding the case said that, on a motion for summary judgment in a medical malpractice action, a defendant doctor has the burden of establishing the absence of any departure from good and accepted medical practice, or that the plaintiff was not injured thereby. Here, defendant doctor established his prima facie entitlement to judgment as a matter of law by submitting the affidavit of a medical expert who opined, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, that defendant doctor’s examination and treatment of the plaintiff on November 11, 1999 did not depart from accepted standards of medical practice and that the plaintiff’s hearing loss was not causally related to treatments rendered by defendant doctor.
Once the defendant doctor made this prima facie showing, the burden shifted to the plaintiff to raise a triable issue of fact. A physician’s affidavit in opposition to a motion for summary judgment must attest to the defendant’s departure from accepted practice, which departure was a competent producing cause of the injury. General and conclusory allegations unsupported by competent evidence are insufficient to defeat a motion for summary judgment.
Here, the court said that the plaintiff’s expert opined that, had defendant doctor conducted proper examination in his office on November 11, 1999 he would have detected more definitive symptoms of meningitis which would have required immediate transfer of the plaintiff to the hospital for a spinal tap, which would have resulted in a firm diagnosis of meningitis and timely antibiotic therapy to salvage the plaintiff’s hearing. The expert’s opinion was based upon a string of assumptions not supported by facts in the record and thus did not raise a triable issue of fact as to whether defendant doctor’s examination and treatment of the plaintiff was a competent producing cause of her injuries.
Accordingly, the Court held that the order is reversed, on the law, with costs, and the motion of the defendant doctor for summary judgment dismissing the complaint insofar as asserted against him is granted.
In a motion for summary judgment in a medical malpractice action, a defendant doctor has the burden of establishing the absence of any departure from good and accepted medical practice, or that the plaintiff was not injured thereby. In order to defend your case against this kind of action, you will need the representation of a Queens Medical Malpractice Attorney and Queens Injury Attorney. Call us at Stephen Bilkis and Associates for free legal advice.