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Articles Posted in Anesthesia Error

Anesthesiology is a complicated practice area, and an anesthesiologist that does not properly perform his or her duties can cause a patient grave harm. Simply because an individual suffers harm while undergoing anesthesia prior to a procedure, however, it does not necessarily mean that the person will be able to recover damages in a medical malpractice case. This was demonstrated in a recent New York case in which the plaintiff’s claims were dismissed due to a lack of evidence that the defendant breached the standard of care. If you were hurt by a careless anesthetist, it prudent to meet with a skillful Rochester anesthesia error attorney to assess whether you may have a viable claim for damages.

Factual History of the Case

It is reported the plaintiff presented to a hospital to give birth to her child. During labor, the defendant placed an epidural catheter in the plaintiff’s lumbar spine, through which he administered anesthesia. Following the plaintiff’s child’s birth, the plaintiff experienced foot drop and numbness and weakness in her left leg and foot.

Allegedly, the plaintiff subsequently filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant, alleging he improperly positioned the catheter, thereby causing her to suffer harm. The defendant moved for dismissal of the plaintiff’s claims via summary judgment. The trial court found in favor of the plaintiff, and the defendant appealed. On appeal, the appellate court reversed the trial court ruling and dismissed the plaintiff’s claims.

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Doctors are obligated to provide care that comports with the standard practices of an average doctor in the same field in his or her community. In cases where medical malpractice is alleged, the plaintiff is required to show a deviation from the standard of care and harm resulting from the deviation. In turn, doctors may be able to assert a defense to explain their deviation, such as the emergency doctrine, which allows them to avoid liability.

The emergency doctrine only applies in certain circumstances, however, as was recently explained in an opinion issued by the Supreme Court of New York. If you suffered harm due to inappropriate care, you should meet with a skilled Rochester medical malpractice attorney to develop a plan to seek damages from the responsible parties.

Facts Regarding the Patient’s Treatment

Reportedly, the patient underwent surgery on her cervical spine. Because of swelling in her neck, the patient underwent a tracheotomy and tracheostomy five days after the surgery, in which a hole was cut into her windpipe and a tube was placed into her windpipe so that she could breathe. Following the surgery, she was walking around and talking. A few days after the tracheostomy was placed, a nurse met resistance placing an inner tube into the tracheostomy tube and the patient became short of breath. The nurse attempted to suction the tube but the patient’s oxygen levels dropped and she lost consciousness. The nurse then paged the defendant, an anesthesiologist.

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If you have ever had surgery, you know that it can be extremely daunting even if it is a minor procedure. Imagine knowing that the surgeon was performing another surgery at the same time. This is a surprisingly common practice. If you or your loved one was injured due to a surgeon’s negligence related to performing overlapping surgeries, we can help.  At DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers, our skilled Rochester medical malpractice attorneys are committed to holding negligent medical professionals accountable for the harm that they cause.

Concurrent surgeries, also known as overlapping or simultaneous surgeries, refer to situations in which the attending surgeon is responsible for two or more surgeries on different patients in different operating rooms at the same time for at least part of the procedure. An example of concurrent surgery would be if a surgeon is scheduled two perform two procedures in a day and preparation and procedure for one patient starts in one room as the care of another patient is completed.

Studies have been divided on the issue. Some studies have been published arguing that the practice is safe. However, other studies have highlighted that there is no reason to double book surgeries other than financial gain. In 2017, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published a study concluding that overlapping surgery in complex neurosurgical cases can be performed without risking patient safety. However, in January of 2018, JAMA Intern Med released a study which found that overlapping surgeries led to significant increase in complications for patients undergoing hip replacements or other surgeries related to hip fractures.

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New York anesthesia error cases are disconcertingly common. They arise from a variety of fact patterns, including the administration of too much or too little of an anesthetic, a delay in delivering anesthesia, or a failure to provide proper instructions to a patient before administering anesthesia. The effect on a patient of an anesthesia error could be discomfort, injury, or death.

When a woman died after experiencing heart problems following treatment in a hospital, her husband filed a medical malpractice lawsuit. Prior to commencing the lawsuit, the husband requested medical records related to his wife’s procedure. The doctors and hospital allegedly complied with some of the requests, but other doctors, including the anesthesiologist, required that the husband submit an affidavit to obtain the records.

Her husband wanted to begin depositions in order to make findings as to his wife’s heart rate and oxygen saturation levels before bradycardia occurred. The husband served a notice to the anesthesiologist for a deposition, but the anesthesiologist and his counsel requested that it be postponed. Instead of rescheduling, the husband filed a motion to compel the deposition. The husband argued that the anesthesiologist’s tactics obstructed the deposition. The trial court dismissed the lawsuit against the anesthesiologist because the husband had failed to provide an expert’s statement justifying his claims, known as an affidavit of merit in that jurisdiction, finding that he didn’t make a required written request for the medical records he needed from the anesthesiologist.

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When properly administered, anesthesia allows us to undergo surgery without experiencing pain. Unfortunately, when administered in a negligent manner, it can cause devastating injuries or death. In a recent decision, the Appellate Division, First Department, reversed a New York medical malpractice summary judgment ruling by the trial court. The plaintiff alleged that she underwent foot surgery at Manhattan Medical Suite. As a result of the negligent administration of anesthesia, she experienced extreme regional pain in her foot area.During the case’s pre-trial proceedings, the defendants, which included the surgical suite, the podiatrist, and the anesthesiologists, moved for summary judgment. The defendants established a prima facie case, as required under New York civil procedure rules, by supporting their motion with expert affidavits and deposition testimony. The defendants argued that the anesthesiologists’ use of propofol was unsuccessful in sedating the plaintiff. Moreover, the propofol did not infiltrate the tissue on the plaintiff’s hand. The plaintiff’s injuries, according to the defendants, could not have been caused by propofol.

The court then analyzed the plaintiff’s rebuttal of the defendant’s summary judgment evidence. The plaintiff’s medical expert was an anesthesiologist and pain medicine specialist. His testimony included a statement that a partial infiltration of propofol occurred at some point during the surgery, through which propofol entered the blood stream and caused the injury.

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Medical malpractice lawsuits, like all other forms of litigation, are subject to the jurisdiction’s rules of civil procedure. These rules are geared to make the litigation more efficient and predictable between the parties. The discovery process is a crucial pre-trial stage in which the parties gather evidence to prepare their cases. Medical malpractice cases often require the review of voluminous medical records and contracts to show whether a doctor, medical group, or hospital breached its standard of care.The plaintiff filed a New York anesthesia malpractice lawsuit against his anesthesiologist, the anesthesiology group, and Peconic Bay Medical Center. The plaintiff alleged that the defendants failed to ensure the proper anesthesia prophylaxis with regard to an operation performed on him at Peconic Bay Medical Center. His complaint alleged that as a result of the malpractice, he suffered severe injuries and complications. When the alleged malpractice occurred, a nonparty to the lawsuit was the president and sole shareholder of the anesthesia practice and its director of anesthesia services. The plaintiff requested, as part of the lawsuit discovery process, all contracts related to anesthesia services among the defendants to the lawsuit. The plaintiff filed a motion to compel those discovery requests, but the trial court granted a protective order to the defendants. The plaintiff appealed the trial court’s ruling with regard to the discovery request.

New York law provides that defendants must make a full disclosure of any facts material and necessary in the prosecution of a complaint or cause of action. New York courts have interpreted this rule as one that should be interpreted broadly and requires the disclosure, when requested, of any facts that will assist preparation for trial by identifying the issues and reducing unnecessary delay.

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Anesthesia, when administered with the proper care, allows patients to undergo surgery without feeling pain. Unfortunately, anesthesia errors are common and often lead to debilitating injures or death. A court recently decided a New York anesthesia error case involving the negligent application of morphine, a common form of surgical anesthesia.The plaintiff went in for gallbladder surgery; during surgery, however, he went into cardiopulmonary arrest. This resulted in a brain injury that left him on a ventilator and in a vegetative state. The plaintiff brought a malpractice claim against two doctors and alleged that his anesthesiologist failed to recognize that the plaintiff was not responding appropriately to opiate pain medication. The court’s decision came at the summary judgment phase of the lawsuit. The primary issue before the court was whether the amount of morphine administered to the plaintiff was done in a way that was negligent.

Under New York law, summary judgment is a procedural phase in which the defendant tries to persuade the judge that the plaintiff’s claims should be dismissed because they lack merit. The defendant must present evidence that shows the absence of any triable issue regarding a claim. If the defendant meets this burden of proof, the plaintiff must present evidence to establish the presence of an issue of material fact. New York law provides that a summary judgment ruling in favor of the defendant is not proper in a medical malpractice claim when the parties have produced conflicting opinions by medical experts.

The defendants’ expert testimony stated that the doses of morphine administered to the plaintiff were within the accepted standard of care. Specifically, the dosage administered (9 to 13 mg) was insufficient to cause an overdose to the plaintiff. On the other hand, the plaintiff contended that although 9 to 13 mg of morphine may not have been excessive for a younger patient, it was negligent to administer this amount to the plaintiff, who was at an increased risk of an abnormal reaction because of his age and obesity. Furthermore, the plaintiff’s experts stated that the plaintiff’s pupils were severely dilated during surgery and evidence of the occurrence of an opioid overdose. The court acknowledged that this evidence could show that the plaintiff’s cardiac arrest was narcotics-induced and concluded that the plaintiff presented triable issues of fact concerning his possible opioid overdose as a result of his anesthesiologist’s negligence.

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