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New York Appellate Division Affirms Summary Judgment to Hospital Following Patient’s Death From Pre-Existing Bacterial Infection

Losing a loved one is one of the most painful experiences in life. When the loved one’s death was preventable, the situation is even more difficult. If you have recently lost a family member and have reason to believe that a doctor, nurse, or hospital’s negligence was to blame, you should talk to a Syracuse medical malpractice lawyer about the possibility of filing a claim in court.

Medical negligence cases are usually met with great resistance from the medical professional(s) who is accused of neglect, so it is important to consult with an attorney as soon as possible so that the case can be properly investigated, and evidence can be gathered to support the plaintiff’s case.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiff was a woman seeking compensation for the death of a man (presumably a family member) whom she alleged died due to the medical negligence of the defendants, a hospital, a doctor, and others. According to the plaintiff, the decedent presented to the defendant hospital for emergency care, went into cardiac arrest, and died three days later. Unbeknownst to the decedent, he was apparently suffering from a bacterial staph infection known as Methicillin Sensitive Staphylococcus Aureus (MSSA) and had been for several days. (A laboratory facility had failed to inform the defendant of his infection.) In response to the plaintiff’s allegations that the decedent’s death was caused by their failure to properly treat and diagnose him during the emergency visit, the defendants filed a motion for summary judgment. The Supreme Court, Bronx County, granted the defendants’  motion, and the plaintiff appealed.

Outcome of the Issues on Appeal

The New York Appellate Division, First Department, affirmed the trial court’s order dismissing the plaintiff’s complaint against the defendant. According to the court, the defendants had made a prima facie showing that they were entitled to summary judgment insomuch as they had submitted an expert’s affirmation, the decedent’s medical records, and the testimony of the medical personnel who attended the decedent prior to his death. In the expert’s opinion, there was no reason for the emergency room workers or hospital personnel to suspect that the decedent needed immediate medical attention due to MSSA. In so holding, the court observed that the decedent had walked into the emergency room without assistance, was coherent, and denied that he had chest pains. The defendants’ expert also opined that, even if the defendants had discovered the decedent’s infection quickly, the decedent’s cardiac arrest was unavoidable.

Although the plaintiff submitted her own expert, that doctor failed to address the opinions and conclusions of the defendants’ expert as it pertained to the decedent’s condition when he arrived at the emergency room. Furthermore, the plaintiff’s expert “merely speculated” that the decedent would have had a 30% chance of recovery if the defendants had discovered the decedent’s life-threatening condition.

Hire a Syracuse Attorney to Help

If you have been hurt due to the neglect of an emergency room doctor or hospital, you should talk to an attorney about the possibility of filing a claim for fair compensation. To schedule an appointment with an experienced Syracuse medical malpractice lawyer, call DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP Personal Injury Lawyers at 315-479-9000. The consultation is free, and our phone lines are available 24/7 to take your call.

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