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Judge Rules Sufficient Evidence Exists for Medical Malpractice Case to Proceed Against Westchester Medical Center. Lee v Westchester County Health Care Corp. 2023 NY Slip Op 04762

In Lee v Westchester County Health Care Corp. 2023 NY Slip Op 04762, the central issue was whether the medical staff deviated from accepted medical practices, leading to severe injuries for the plaintiff. Deviating from accepted medical practices means that a healthcare provider did not follow the standard procedures and guidelines that are widely recognized and adhered to by the medical community. These standards are based on the collective knowledge, experience, and research of medical professionals and are designed to ensure that patients receive safe and effective care.When a doctor or medical professional deviates from these accepted practices, it suggests that they failed to provide the level of care that a reasonably competent provider in the same field would have delivered under similar circumstances. This can include errors in diagnosis, treatment, follow-up care, or obtaining informed consent. Deviating from accepted medical practices can lead to patient harm, complications, or worsening of medical conditions, and it is a key factor in medical malpractice claims.

Background Facts
In the early morning of August 19, 2014, the plaintiff was involved in a car accident and was transported by ambulance to Westchester Medical Center. Upon arrival, the plaintiff received treatment from several medical professionals, including Dr. Min Li Xu, Dr. Dmitriy V. Karev, Dr. Hanna Alemayehu, Dr. David Spielvogel, Dr. Ramin Malekan, and Dr. Arun Goyal. By 2:45 a.m., the plaintiff was diagnosed with an aortic transection but remained hemodynamically stable. Due to the high risk of complications from immediate surgery, Dr. Malekan, the on-call cardiothoracic surgeon, decided to delay the aortic repair.

However, by 5:30 a.m., there was no detectable blood flow to the plaintiff’s lower extremities, prompting Dr. Malekan to proceed with the aortic repair. The plaintiff was transported to the operating room at 6:49 a.m., and surgery began at 9:52 a.m. Although the surgery successfully repaired the aorta, the plaintiff was left paraplegic.

The plaintiff filed a lawsuit alleging medical malpractice, claiming that the defendants failed to monitor his condition adequately and delayed the necessary aortic repair surgery. The complaint included accusations of permanent injury, such as paraplegia and organ damage.

Whether the medical professionals deviated from the accepted standards of medical practice, leading to the plaintiff’s injuries. Specifically, the court needed to determine if the delay in performing the aortic repair surgery constituted malpractice and if the failure to monitor the plaintiff’s condition properly contributed to the severe outcomes.

The court denied the defendants’ motion for summary judgment. This decision meant that the court found there were sufficient factual disputes that required a trial to resolve. The court’s denial allowed the plaintiff’s medical malpractice claims to proceed.

To succeed in their motion for summary judgment, the defendants needed to prove that there was no departure from accepted medical practices or that any such departure did not directly cause the plaintiff’s injuries. The defendants submitted expert affirmations supporting their actions, arguing that the decision to delay the surgery was appropriate given the plaintiff’s hemodynamically stable condition and the high mortality risk associated with immediate surgery. They also claimed they had monitored the plaintiff’s condition properly.

However, the plaintiff’s expert provided conflicting testimony. This expert raised questions about whether the defendants had failed to monitor the plaintiff’s condition adequately and whether the decision to delay the surgery was appropriate, given the plaintiff’s deteriorating condition. The expert also suggested that the delay in surgery might have directly caused the plaintiff’s injuries.

The court found that the plaintiff’s expert’s testimony created genuine issues of fact regarding the standard of care and the causation of the plaintiff’s injuries. These disputed facts needed to be examined and resolved at trial. The court also dismissed the defendants’ arguments that the plaintiff’s expert’s opinions were outside their area of specialization.

Medical malpractice cases are complex and require a deep understanding of both medical and legal principles. If you or a loved one has suffered from medical negligence, it is important to seek legal advice from experienced professionals. A knowledgeable New York medical malpractice lawyer can help you understand your rights, gather necessary evidence, and navigate the legal process to seek the compensation you deserve.

At Stephen Bilkis & Associates, we are dedicated to providing compassionate and effective representation. If you believe you have been a victim of medical malpractice, contact us today for a free consultation. We are here to help you through every step of your legal journey.

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