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New York Medical Malpractice Decision Shows Risks of Negligent Catheterization

Medical malpractice can lead to serious injuries and in some cases, even death. The plaintiff’s decedent in a New York medical malpractice case was placed in a difficult position when the decedent underwent two surgeries, and neither surgeon would take responsibility for the action that led to the decedent’s allegedly fatal injuries.

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The plaintiff’s decedent had two medical procedures, and both surgeons were named as defendants in the ensuing lawsuit. The first procedure was a gall bladder extraction. Following the surgery, the decedent experienced pain and returned to the hospital. The patient underwent scans, and the tests showed that there was no leakage or perforation. However, upon further review, the doctors weren’t so sure and proceeded to take X-rays of the area in question, using an endoscope. The defendants argued among themselves about who caused the perforation. Either it was caused in the first procedure or later, in the second procedure, with a catheter. Both defendants agreed that by the time of the second procedure, there was a leak in the bile duct, leading into the abdominal cavity.

Surgeon number 2 established his prima facie case on summary judgment by providing deposition testimony, medical records, and the statements of two experts that supported that he did not breach the standard of care, nor were the actions of surgeon number 2 the cause of the decedent’s alleged injuries. An expert in gastroenterology opined that the bile duct leak was pre-existing by the time surgeon number 2 had the patient under his care.

However, even with the extensive testimony presented by surgeon number 2, the court ruled that the plaintiff and surgeon number 1 raised material issues of fact, which is the standard for a plaintiff or cross-claimant to survive a summary judgment motion.

The evidence they presented showed that surgeon number 2 may have exacerbated the decedent’s injuries by advancing the catheter and performing excessive manipulation when passing the catheter up the bile duct, given the decedent’s condition. The plaintiff’s expert testified that this would depart from the accepted standard of care because surgeon number 2 knew that the decedent was at risk after experiencing post-surgical inflammation, in addition to evidence that her bile duct was not in a good condition. Surgeon number 1 also testified that he was summoned to the second procedure because surgeon number 2 had caused the bile duct perforation.

It can be difficult to know to whom to turn when surgical errors are suspected. As patients, we want to trust our doctors, but it is important to remember that even highly skilled and experienced physicians make mistakes. If you have been injured during surgery and want to talk about your legal options with a medical malpractice attorney, do not hesitate to contact our law firm. At Rochester-based DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, we represent clients throughout central New York who are pursuing a medical malpractice claim for a surgical error. Call 315-479-9000 to schedule a free consultation to learn how we can help.

More Blog Posts:

Continuous Treatment Doctrine at Issue in New York Cancer Misdiagnosis Case, Rochester Medical Malpractice and Personal Injury Blog, September 21, 2017

Hospital Denied Emergency Room Exception to Vicarious Liability Rule, Rochester Medical Malpractice and Personal Injury Blog, September 19, 2017

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