In its decision filed on January 12, 2017, the New York Appellate Division, First Department (“Appellate Court”) decided that the New York medical malpractice plaintiff’s expert’s affidavit raised a material issue of fact as to whether the defendant physician and defendant hospital departed from the accepted standard of medical care in diagnosing and treating the plaintiff’s 2006 ectopic pregnancy, and that such departure proximately caused the rupture and removal of the plaintiff’s left fallopian tube.
The defendants filed their motion for summary judgment that the trial court subsequently granted. The defendants’ motion for summary judgment included their expert’s opinion that the defendant physician provided appropriate care when she saw the plaintiff on June 6, 2006 and ordered a repeat BhCG (a hormone produced during pregnancy) test, that no further tests were necessary that day because the plaintiff was stable, and that it was appropriate and proper for the attending physician at the defendant hospital’s family practice clinic on June 7, 2006 to receive the laboratory reports, which indicated that the pregnancy was likely resolving by itself.
The defendants’ expert further opined that with respect to the plaintiff’s June 22, 2006 visit to the defendant hospital’s emergency room, where the attending physician told the plaintiff that he was too busy to perform diagnostic laparoscopy and would only perform a more invasive procedure, the hospital’s staff fully explained to the plaintiff the risks of her signing out against medical advice, and that there was in any event no immediate need for surgical intervention because the plaintiff was stable. Finally, the defendants’ expert opined that neither the defendant physician’s treatment nor the performance of a salpingectomy at the defendant hospital on June 23, 2006 caused the plaintiff’s fallopian tube to rupture.
In opposition to the defendants’ motion for summary judgment, the plaintiff raised issues of fact by submitting the report of an expert who opined that, in light of the plaintiff’s symptoms, which were indicative of an ectopic pregnancy, and medical history, which included a previous ectopic pregnancy, the defendant physician should have followed up with the plaintiff immediately after the results of the BhCG test she ordered on June 6, 2006 became available, and that as a result of her failure to do so, the plaintiff lost the opportunity to be timely treated with methotrexate and avoid a ruptured fallopian tube.
The Appellate Court noted that the defendants contend that the plaintiff was solely at fault because she was told to return to the family practice clinic two days later and failed to do so, but the Appellate Court noted that there is no evidence in the record that an appointment was ever made for the plaintiff for June 8, 2006.
The Appellate Court held that the evidence presents issues of fact as to whether an appointment was scheduled and missed, whether the defendant physician breached the standard of care by not following up with the plaintiff after the June 7, 2006 BhCG test results became available (whether or not the alleged appointment was missed), and the apportionment of fault. The Appellate Court stated that the defendant physician was actively involved in the plaintiff’s treatment, even if she was not the plaintiff’s primary physician. Therefore, summary judgment for the defendants was improper.
Source Torres v. Cergnul, 2017 NY Slip Op 00236.
If you or a loved one suffered injury (or worse) due to the misdiagnosis of ectopic pregnancy (the late diagnosis of ectopic pregnancy, the failure to diagnose ectopic pregnancy, or the failure to properly treat an ectopic pregnancy), you should promptly find a medical malpractice lawyer in your U.S. state who may investigate your ectopic pregnancy medical malpractice claim for you and represent you or your loved one in a medical malpractice case involving an ectopic pregnancy, if appropriate.
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