A legal action was filed by a mother and his son who wants to recover damages for medical malpractice. The complainant’s demands an appeal from the order of the Supreme Court granting his opponent’s request of dismissing their complaint.
The incident started when the mother began receiving a prenatal care at the hospital which is owned and operated by the opponent on the legal matter. At 31 weeks of gestation, the mother was admitted to the said hospital in Queens for signs of preterm labor. During the admission, the mother’s blood glucose level was measured at 26 mg/dL, an abnormally low level, but was consequently measured at a normal level. The mother was then discharged after two days. At 34 weeks of gestation, the mother experienced a grand mal seizure and was brought again to the said institution by the emergency medical services personnel. However, after the same sort of assessment the mother was discharged. According to the past medical history of the mother, she had seizures during her childhood.
A month after the said seizure, the mother gave birth to a baby boy through a normal delivery. The baby boy got an excellent score from the test given to newborns and initially appeared normal. However, when the baby boy reached his 40 minutes in life, the baby began experiencing tremors and was admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit.
According to the testimony of the director of neonatology of the institution, tremors are signs of hypoglycemia, a lowering of blood glucose in a newborn. When the baby was admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit, his blood glucose level was measured through a heel stick test at less than 20 mg/dL. Later, the laboratory again drawn blood from the baby and measured a glucose level of 3 mg/dL. According to the doctor, a normal glucose level for an infant approximately 40 minutes old is about 40 mg/dL. The baby was given glucose via intravenous push and glucose infusion and his blood glucose level measured at 71 mg/dL, which is within the normal limits. Thereafter, the baby’s blood glucose level remained within normal limits until he was discharged from the hospital.
A year later, the baby was referred to the same institution for evaluation due to delays in reaching certain developmental milestones. Subsequently, the baby underwent a brain imaging examination at the other hospital. The brain imaging results revealed some abnormalities and the baby was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
The complainant’s initiated the legal action to recover damages for medical malpractice against the hospital. The complainant’s claimed that the hospital failed to timely diagnose and treat the hypoglycemia of both the mother and the baby. The complainant’s claimed that the baby’s hypoglycemia had caused, among other things, his brain injury and cerebral palsy.
By notice of motion, the hospital moved to ask for decision without proceeding to dismiss the complaint or in the alternative, for a hearing to test the standards for admitting scientific evidences. In the event, the opponent offered a sworn statement from an expert stating that the baby’s injuries were caused by the possible transient episode of maternal hypoglycemia during pregnancy, or the transient episode of hypoglycemia after the baby’s birth. In addition, the opponent supported its motion with the expert affirmation of a doctor, who argued that the baby’s episode of neonatal hypoglycemia did not cause his alleged injuries. According to the doctor, the abnormalities shown on the result of the imaging was a typical lesion resulting from a decrease in oxygenation to the brain. The doctor also states that the baby’s brain injury, as shown on his MRI, was a result of decreased oxygenation to his brain at 32-34 weeks gestation, and was not caused by the transient hypoglycemic episode at his birth. The doctor also asserted that it was not accepted in the medical profession that a short and promptly treated episode of hypoglycemia in a newborn could cause brain injury.
The complainant’s opposed the opponent’s argument and states that it is improper to demand for decision without trial because there were triable issues of fact concerning the nature and cause of the baby’s illness. The complainant’s also submitted the expert affirmation of another doctor and stated that the baby had been born with profound hypoglycemia, and that the delay in diagnosis and treatment was a significant factor causing his brain injury. The Staten Island doctor of the complainants’ disagreed with what the doctor of the opponent’s conclusion that the mother’s seizure had caused the baby’s brain injuries. The doctor of the complainant further stated that the baby’s normal appearance and good scores at test after his birth and the delay of the onset of his tremors until approximately 40 minutes after birth were consistent with depletion of glucose stores after birth rather than a primary inadequate oxygen damage . The doctor characterized the baby’s tremors as one of the seizure in newborn and further stated that the tremors or seizures had been caused by his profound hypoglycemia at birth. Their doctor also asserts that the imaging result was essentially accurate in its findings.
After the said arguments, the Supreme Court granted the branch of the opponent’s motion for a trial to admit scientific evidences and held in suspension the other motion which was for judgment without trial dismissing the complaint. The Supreme Court determined that the complainants’ experts had provided limited reference to medical or scientific literature to support their opinions, and that a trial should be held to determine whether their assumption were based on principles which were sufficiently established to have gained general acceptance. The court then conducted the hearing for admission of scientific evidences.
After the trial, the Supreme Court granted the branch of the opponent’s motion for decision with trial to dismiss the complaint after concluding that the complainants’ expert testimony regarding causation was irrelevant. In addition, the Supreme Court concluded that the doctor’s inability to label any of the medical literature he had reviewed as reliable ran counter to a conclusion that the findings set forth were generally accepted in the scientific community.
Based on the record, the theory of causation supported by the complainants’ experts is acceptable at trial and the court improperly granted the opponent’s motion to dismiss the complaint without any trial. Although the opponent’s expert submissions established that the baby’s brain damage was not caused by his episode of neonatal hypoglycemia, the complainants raised a triable issue of fact through the submission of acceptable expert opinion evidence. Consequently, under the particular situation of the case, the Supreme Court should have denied the branch of the opponent’s motion to dismiss the complaint without any trial. Furthermore, the appeal from the intermediate order must be dismissed because the right of direct appeal there terminated with the entry of decision in the action. The issues raised on the appeal from the order are brought up for review and have been considered from the decision.
The court accordingly ordered that the judgment is reversed. The branch of the opponent’s motion to dismiss the complaint without any trial is denied and the order is modified appropriately. In addition, the court ordered that the appeal from the order is dismissed and the one bill of costs is awarded to the complainants.
Being a medical practitioner is a difficult profession and liabilities are always at hand. If you believe that your life and health is handled negligently, feel free to ask our NYC Medical Malpractice Lawyers and NY Brain Injury Attorneys and let them assess your legal concerns. If any actions or negligent actions resulted to injury, our NYC Injury Lawyers at Stephen Bilkis & Associates are always ready to provide you with any legal guidance you might need.