The Supreme Court of the State of New York Appellate Division: Second Judicial Department (“New York Appellate Court”) held in its Decision & Order dated August 29, 2018 that the trial court should have denied the New York medical malpractice defendants’ motion for summary judgment because the defendants failed to establish that the defendant emergency room physicians did not breach the standard of care or that their breach was not a proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.
The Underlying Facts
The New York medical malpractice plaintiff had been trying out for his college’s basketball team when he began to experience pain in his leg. The college athletic trainer referred him to the emergency room with suspected compartment syndrome based upon his symptoms. The plaintiff went to the emergency room of the defendant hospital, complaining of left shin pain after playing basketball. The plaintiff was examined by the defendant sports medicine fellow and the defendant emergency department attending physician. The plaintiff had x-rays taken and then discharged with instructions to take Motrin and follow up with an orthopedist or sports medicine doctor.
The plaintiff’s pain persisted, and five days later he saw a sports medicine doctor. The sports medicine doctor examined the plaintiff, took additional x-rays, and thereafter diagnosed the plaintiff with compartment syndrome and instructed him to go to a hospital. The plaintiff returned to the defendant hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery for compartment syndrome.
The New York medical malpractice plaintiff filed his lawsuit in which he alleged a failure to timely diagnose and treat the compartment syndrome during the original emergency room visit. The defendants moved for summary judgment and in support of their motion, the defendants submitted an affirmation of a board-certified vascular surgeon who opined that the emergency room defendants did not depart from the accepted standard of care in their treatment of the plaintiff in the emergency room, stating that the plaintiff did not have symptoms consistent with compartment syndrome at the time of that visit.
In opposition to the defendants’ motion for summary judgment, the plaintiff submitted an affirmation from an expert, a physician certified in general surgery, who opined that the plaintiff had presented to the emergency room with symptoms of compartment syndrome and that the defendants departed from the accepted standard of care by failing to perform adequate testing and diagnose the compartment syndrome, from which the plaintiff was suffering at that time.
The trial court granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment, and the plaintiff appealed.
New York Appellate Court Decision
The New York Appellate Court held: “Here, the moving defendants failed to establish, prima facie, that the emergency room defendants did not depart from good and accepted standards of medical care, or that any such departure was not a proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. The moving defendants’ expert merely recounted the treatment rendered and opined in a conclusory manner that such treatment did not represent a departure from good and accepted medical practice.”
Source Kelly v. Rosca, Case Number 2016-03111 +2.
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