Articles Posted in Horners Syndrome

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On September 21, 1982, the complainant 32-year-old woman visited her accused gynecologist for her annual check-up. At that time, the gynecologist made note of a one-centimeter mass on the outside lower quadrant of the woman’s left breast which he tentatively classified as a galactocele or a milk-filled cyst, but no further tests were performed. Ten months later, the woman returned to her Manhattan gynecologist complaining of a painful lump in her left breast and a swelling under her left arm. Following a mammography and other examinations, the mass in the woman’s breast was diagnosed as cancer which had metastasized or spread, to three ribs and two vertebrae. The woman died nearly two years later, as a result of the extensive metastasis of the cancer leaving as the sole beneficiary of her estate her then four-year-old daughter.

At the time her condition was first diagnosed, she was in the process of obtaining a divorce from her husband who contributed nothing toward her own or her child’s support. Although after the birth of her daughter, she had discontinued working outside the home, she was certified as a teacher for kindergarten through twelfth grade and had been a permanent substitute teacher in the Lawrence school district for one and one-half years prior to her daughter’s birth. She held undergraduate degrees in art education and psychology and was working toward obtaining an advanced degree in psychology in preparation for a child psychology program. She had always been a very self-sufficient and independent person. She had fully participated in the daily activities of her child. Because of her rapidly deteriorating physical condition and the negative effects of the medical treatment, the woman’s life changed to a tragically radical degree. She initially underwent two months of hormone therapy which was discontinued when she stopped responding. She began experiencing excruciating pain in her right leg which was determined to be caused by an additional lesion. She was then placed on a program of pain killers including morphine and methadone which her treating physician testified only dulled the recognition of pain in the brain but did not eliminate the pain. She also received a combination of five chemotherapy drugs which caused debilitating side effects. She became constipated, weak and tired, suffered from insomnia and began losing weight at the rate of two or three pounds per week. Her bones became very brittle and she was warned by her physicians to be very careful to avoid breaking them. In fact, she had to be hospitalized on three separate occasions for hypocalcaemia which is an elevation of calcium in the blood causing sleeplessness, lethargy, confusion, difficulty in walking, severe dehydration and ultimately death. The continuous vomiting caused by the chemotherapy resulted in dental infections and the loss of six teeth which she had to have extracted with only a minimal amount of novacaine due to the chemotherapy.

The Queens woman became a virtual invalid. She relied on a homemaker, her friends and family to care for her child, to shop for her, to clean her house, to prepare meals and to drive her to the hospital. She had no physical strength. She was too weak to pick up her daughter or to perform any type of housework. Moreover, because of her weakened bones, she was afraid to go to any crowded places such as a train station or shopping mall for fear of being hit in her ribs or vertebrae. In any event, she was physically unable to shop for herself. Her social life became nonexistent.

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The complainant woman gave birth to her childat the accused hospital. The hospital’s obstetric gynecologist delivered the child vaginally. The child, who had high birth weight at the time of birth, suffered birth injuries which include Erb’s palsy/brachial plexus injury during delivery. The accused female physician who is an employee of the hospital’s medical practitioner had provided most of the woman’s prenatal treatment up to her last visit. The medical practitioner was the last physician to treat the woman prenatally when he treated her prior to delivering the child the next day.

The Long Island woman and her child commenced the action alleging that the female physician deviated from accepted medical practice when, after estimating the child’s fetal weight on to be 3700 grams, she failed to recommend delivering the child by cesarean section rather than vaginally. The female physician alleged that the woman’s gestational diabetes increased the likelihood that, at birth, the child would be of a large size, thus warranting a cesarean section, and that the injuries suffered by the child could have been prevented had she been delivered by cesarean section. The female physician moved for summary judgment to dismiss the complaint as asserted against her. In an order, the Supreme Court denied the motion, concluding that the triable issues of fact existed however, the female physician appeals.

The requisite elements of proof in a medical malpractice action are a deviation or departure from accepted community standards of medical practice, and evidence that such deviation or departure was a proximate cause of injury or damage. An accused physician moving for summary judgment in a medical malpractice action has the initial burden of establishing legitimate complaint, either the absence of any departure from good and accepted medical practice or that any departure was not the proximate cause of the alleged injuries.

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On 3 April 2008, a detective filed a misdemeanor complaint against defendant and charged her with Endangering the Welfare of a Child.

The detective or the deponent, in pertinent part, the factual portion of the complaint, alleged: deponent is informed by a doctor (the informant) of a hospital that, on or about 30 March 2008, at approximately 6:00 p.m., the defendant brought her 17-month old son at the hospital to be treated for a burn injury where defendant also stated that her 3-year old son was also burned with an iron at their residence; deponent is further informed by informant that he examined and observed a second degree burn, that was at least 2-3 days old, 6 inch long and 1 inch wide on the child’s left thigh, and that, defendant’s story of how the burn occurred is not consistent with the child’s injury; deponent is further informed by the informant that the above described actions caused the child to suffer substantial pain, to fear physical injury and to become alarmed and annoyed; deponent is further informed by defendant that the child’s date of birth is 19 October 2006.

The People did not answer ready for trial.

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