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New York Appellate Division Grants Summary Judgment to Hospital in Case Alleging Bedsore Was Caused by Medical Negligence

Medical malpractice is rampant in New York and elsewhere in the country. However, unless an injured person (or the estate of a deceased patient) files a timely complaint for medical negligence and is able to offer proof from a competent medical expert witness regarding the standard of care and the defendant doctor or hospital’s deviation therefrom, the injured person or his or her family will not be able to recover monetary compensation.

Thus, it is very important to talk to a knowledgeable New York medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible if you suspect that you or a loved one has been the victim of negligence by a medical professional.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiff was the administrator of a woman who developed a severe sacral decubitus ulcer (i.e., a pressure ulcer or “bedsore”) while under the care of the defendant hospital. According to the plaintiff’s complaint, the development of the ulcer was due to the defendant’s negligence. The defendant, however, claimed that the decedent’s ulcer was unavoidable under the circumstances and filed a motion seeking summary judgment as to the plaintiff’s medical malpractice claim against it.

The Supreme Court, Bronx County, denied the defendant’s motion, and the defendant appealed.

The Appellate Tribunal’s Decision

The Appellate Division, First Department, reversed the lower court’s decision and directed that the defendant’s motion for summary judgment be granted. While there was existing case law in New York as to certain “novel theory” cases necessitating a hearing, the appellate division did not agree with the plaintiff’s contention that this was such a case. Rather, the court noted that the defendant’s expert had opined that the plaintiff’s decedent suffered from multiple chronic diseases, had a previous ulcer at the same site, and required that her bed be elevated to avoid pneumonia or aspiration.

According to the court, all that the plaintiff had offered in opposition to the opinion of the defendant’s expert was a “conclusory affirmation” that not only minimized the significance of the decedent’s multiple chronic medical conditions but also misstated the record and mischaracterized the decedent as “relatively healthy.” The affirmation did not address the various assertions contained in the report of the defendant’s expert witness concerning the required bed elevation. The affirmation also conflated the concepts of healing ability and avoidability, and it also improperly raised the theory of inadequate discharge planning for the first time. The court also found that the plaintiff’s expert had failed to establish his own qualifications to testify regarding the formation of bedsores.

Contact a Syracuse Medical Negligence Attorney

If you believe that you or a family member has been the victim of medical negligence, it is important that you promptly seek legal advice concerning the possibility of litigation against the responsible healthcare provider. At the law firm of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP, we are experienced in handling medical malpractice lawsuits in Syracuse, Rochester, and the surrounding areas, and we are here to help with your case. For a free case evaluation, call us now at 315-479-9000, and we will be happy to set up an appointment for you to come and tell us more about your situation. Taking prompt legal action is very important in these types of cases, as there are strict filing deadlines; failure to file a timely claim can result in forfeiture of a patient’s right to seek fair compensation for an act of medical negligence.

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