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Stroke Victim May Proceed with Neurological Malpractice Claim Against Upstate New York Doctors and Hospitals

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stroke ranks as the fifth-most likely cause of death in the United States and causes a permanent disability in countless others. Stroke is treatable, however, but it’s absolutely necessary if someone is experiencing a stroke that they seek immediate care from a specialist like a neurologist. Unfortunately, in a New York neurology malpractice case, D’Orta v. Margaretville Mem. Hosp., the plaintiff alleged that the wait time for treatment of his stroke led to significant disabilities that could have been avoided if the medical professionals had not acted negligently.The plaintiff was playing cards with his friends in the early morning hours when he collapsed on the floor. The plaintiff had difficulty speaking, his face’s right side drooped, and he lost the use of his hand. His fiancee transported the plaintiff to a local hospital, where he arrived at 2:16 a.m. His collapse occurred an hour earlier, at 1:16 a.m. A physician at the local hospital, a defendant in the lawsuit, advised the plaintiff that he should be transported to a regional hospital with better resources to care for the plaintiff.  The plaintiff was transferred to the other hospital and arrived at 4:52 a.m. The hospital consulted with a neurologist about administering TPA, a drug that can dissolve clots in certain stroke patients. However, the neurologist concluded that the plaintiff’s stroke was too severe, and too much time had passed to administer the drug.

The plaintiff named the hospitals and the physicians who provided care, including the neurologist, as defendants in a neurology malpractice lawsuit. The lawsuit alleged that the defendants committed malpractice because they did not administer TPA because the transfer to the second hospital was allegedly not timely. The defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, which the lower court denied, and the defendants appealed the decision.

New York law provides that the defendant shoulders the initial burden of proof on a motion for summary judgment in a neurological malpractice action. The defendant is required to establish that either (i) he or she did not depart from accepted standards of neurological practice, or (ii) any deviation from that standard did not cause harm to the plaintiff. Only if the burden is satisfied through a physician’s affidavit or expert witness does the burden of proof shift to the plaintiff to show that there’s a genuine issue of material fact.

The New York court of appeals acknowledged that the defendants met their burden of proof and shifted the burden to the plaintiff. In response, the plaintiff alleged, through an expert affirmation of a board-certified neurologist, that TPA should have been administered to the plaintiff and that the defendant’s reasons for refusing to administer TPA were “speculative.” Moreover, the plaintiff argued that the hospital transfer was negligent because it took at least 45 minutes longer than it should have. Specifically, the plaintiff alleged that the local hospital did not use an ambulance located on-site; instead, it requested an ambulance that took 45 minutes to arrive.

If you are harmed or a family member is killed due to neurology malpractice, our law firm may be able to help you recover damages from responsible parties. We represent injured patients in Rochester and all of Upstate New York. Contact us at our office at 315-479-9000 or reach us using our online form.

More Blog Posts:

New York Court Allows Anesthesia Error Case to Proceed, Rochester Medical Malpractice and Personal Injury Blog, September 12, 2017

Defendant Invokes New York Education and Public Health Laws’ Privileges to Prevent Discovery of Medical Records in New York Malpractice Case, Rochester Medical Malpractice and Personal Injury Blog, October 30, 2017

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