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.
The court criticized the plaintiff’s expert testimony as it related to negligence. New York medical malpractice law requires that the anesthesiologists breached their medical standard of care in the course of the procedure. The court noted that although the plaintiff’s expert suggested preventative measures that might have prevented the plaintiff’s injury, the expert did not tie those measures to the standard of care. The measures offered by the expert included elevation and warm compresses, but they did not show how those might have produced a better outcome for the plaintiff.
The court was unpersuaded by the plaintiff’s evidence, stating that the medical expert did not provide an opinion as to the amount of propofol that infiltrated into the tissue, and furthermore, he did not testify about how it related to causation, an element in proving New York medical malpractice claims. Finally, and perhaps most crucially, the plaintiff’s treating pain physician conceded that his Complex Regional Pain Syndrome could have been caused from a syringe insertion, which is not preventable, even if under the requisite standard of care.
This case demonstrates the importance of having experienced anesthesia error attorneys to navigate the court system’s procedural rules. Our firm has extensive experience. Call us if you believe you have a case. Consultations are always free, and you are not responsible for legal fees unless we are able to recover money for you. To speak with a Rochester-based attorney about your anesthesia error case, call DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers at 315-479-9000 or contact us online. We offer evening and weekend appointments as well as home and hospital visits.
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