A complainant man, age 37, was admitted to a hospital, after having suffered a gunshot wound to his neck. He was treated by a general surgeon and a neurosurgeon. During the first few days of treatment, the Bronx general surgeon formed an opinion that the man would be a permanent paraplegic. The neurosurgeon was also of the opinion that the man’s spinal column had suffered such severe damage and that eventual spasms in his extremities would be inevitable. However, the neurosurgeon noted in the hospital records that the man apparently had a sensation to his feet.
Subsequently, while the man was in an intensive care unit, nurses at the hospital placed him on a special bed used to allow immobilized patients to be rotated to a vertical position. The nurse who was responsible for checking out the bed failed to check on the position of an essential bolt, and as the bed was rotated the man fell. There was conflict in the testimony as to injuries caused by the fall. The man claimed that he struck his back on a chair, while the nurse testified that she caught the man prior to the time he struck to anything. After the incident, the man was examined by another physician, who noted that the patient had not sustained any injury when a section of the bed had almost fallen down. The man testified, however, that his pain intensified after the fall and that it was only after the fall that he had begun to suffer spasms. The man was discharged from the hospital and after which, he was a patient in various other Westchester hospitals. He undergone several operations, but he remains paralyzed.
A pathologist testified as an expert witness for the man. It was his opinion that the fall striking the mid portion of the man’s back in the area through which the bullet had passed had caused some degree of neurological and spinal injury, which in turn caused additional injury to the wound site. Even if the pathologist could not assess any particular degree of aggravation caused to the already existing damage, he did testify that the man’s fall from the bed injured him to some additional degree.
For the opponent, the neurosurgeon testified that he had seen no medical changes in the man before or after which warranted any conclusion that any injury such as a fall occurring in the hospital had worsened his condition, but rather that all of the man’s problems were consistent with the original gunshot injury and inconsistent with any other damage.
Initially, the court rejected the hospital’s argument that the man’s evidence did not warrant submission of the case to the jury. But, the court finds competent substantial evidence from which the jury found that the man suffered additional injury resulting from the hospital’s negligence. The man testified that he had fallen out of bed and there were notes from one of the nurses indicating that after such fall he was unable to move his toes. Even the neurosurgeon acknowledged there had been some sensation in the man’s feet prior to the fall, but there was none there after it.
The hospital however filed an appeal from the decision entered awarding the man a total of $350,000. The thrust of the hospital’s contention is that the man was an irreversible paraplegic when he was admitted to the hospital, therefore, the fall he sustained as a result of the hospital’s alleged negligence did not aggravate his then existing injuries.
Consequently, the court affirms the decision of the trial court as to the hospital’s liability, but reverses and remand to the trial judge.
It is stressing for a family member to know that something wrong happened while a sick family member is still in their responsibility. If your loved one is caught in the same situation, you can file a legal complaint against them by seeking guidance from the NYC Medical Malpractice Lawyers. You can also have the NY Personal Injury Attorney or New York City Injury Lawyers at Stephen Bilkis and Associates for your injury claim.