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New York Appellate Court Affirms $1 Million Verdict in Hospital Negligence Lawsuit

About two out of five Americans take at least one prescription medication these days. While most of these medications are at least somewhat beneficial to the patient taking them, each comes with a list of possible side effects.

When a patient is admitted to a hospital, personnel should be careful to note all medications taken by the patient, including the dosage of these prescription drugs. Follow up with the patient’s family and/or pharmacy should also be made in many cases.

If this is not done and personal injury or wrongful death befalls the patient as a proximate result, the patient or his family may have a Syracuse medical malpractice or hospital malpractice claim.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case originally filed in the Supreme Court of Erie County, New York, the plaintiff was executor of the estate of a woman who was admitted to the defendant hospital in mid-August 2007. At that time, the decedent was 81 years old and was complaining of having left-sided weakness. The decedent’s admitting physician reportedly prescribed 80 mg/daily of a cholesterol control medication known as Simvastatin. However, prior to being admitted to the hospital, the decedent’s treating physician had prescribed only 20 mg/daily of such medication. According to the plaintiff’s lawsuit, no one from the defendant hospital called the decedent’s pharmacy or her family to follow up on the dosage of the medication.

The decedent was eventually discharged from the defendant hospital and sent to first one rehabilitation facility and then a second. These facilities continued to give the decedent 80 mg/daily of Simvastatin. This medication is alleged to have a possible side effect of kidney damage, especially when taken in high dosages. Her condition deteriorated over the next few weeks, resulting in her death from severe rhabdomyolysis and renal failure approximately two months after she originally presented at the defendant hospital.

The plaintiff originally filed his medical negligence lawsuit against both the defendant hospital and the rehabilitation facilities; however, at some point during the litigation, the plaintiff opted to discontinue his action against the facilities. The defendant hospital had, in the meantime, filed a cross claim against these parties. This action became a third-party action and was eventually severed from the plaintiff’s case. A jury trial of the issues between the plaintiff and the defendant hospital resulted in a jury verdict of $1 million in the plaintiff’s favor. The defendant hospital appealed.

The Court’s Ruling

The Supreme Court of the State of New York, Appellate Division, Fourth Judicial Department, affirmed the judgment of the lower tribunal, holding that, because of the defendant hospital’s representations when requesting severance of its third-party action against the rehabilitation facilities, it would have been unduly prejudicial to the plaintiff to have allowed the defendant to assert a New York Civil Procedure Laws and Rules Article 16 defense at trial.

According to the appellate court’s discussion of the issues, the defendant hospital had told the trial court that the topic of the decedent’s care at the rehabilitation facilities would not be discussed during the trial of the plaintiff’s original claim against the defendant hospital. Had these representations not been made, the plaintiff would likely have taken a different approach to certain matters during the trial. Thus, under the circumstances, the court agreed with the plaintiff that it would have been unfair to have allowed the defendant hospital to address the rehabilitation facilities’ care of the decedent and assert a CPLR article 15 defense during the trial of the plaintiff’s original hospital negligence claim.

Talk to a Syracuse Medical Negligence Lawyer

If you believe that you or a family member has suffered harm due to hospital malpractice or other medical negligence, the experienced personal injury attorneys at DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP may be able to help. Call us at 315-479-9000 to get started on your Syracuse medical malpractice case.

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