Senior Trial Partner Peter T. Crean and Emma B. Glazer secured summary judgment on behalf of our client hospital in Kings County Supreme Court before the Honorable Ellen M. Spodek.
This case involves a then 25 year old married woman with two children who was 12 weeks pregnant and presented to the our client hospital Emergency Department on March 15, 2014 with cough, low grade fever, and chest pain on inspiration. She reported that she recently saw her internist and was prescribed Prednisone. She presented to co-defendant hospital Emergency Department the previous night and underwent an x-ray and ENT evaluation, and was apparently discharged home without medications, but her symptoms worsened. Upon examination, there was concern for pneumonia versus pulmonary embolism, and x-ray findings were consistent with pneumonia. She became hypoxic and was placed on an NRB. Ceftriaxone/Azithromycin, Tylenol, and Tamiflu were given and she was admitted to the MICU. She rapidly developed hypoxic respiratory failure and was intubated. Refractory hypoxia continued following intubation, and she was in shock. The plan was transfer to our client hospital (Columbia) for ECMO, which was initiated at our client hospital (Cornell) around 5:30 a.m. on March 16th, and she developed PEA arrest. Sinus tachycardia returned following CPR and ACLS medications. That morning, she was transferred to our client hospital (Columbia), where she died later that day.
Justice Spodek granted summary judgment as to the Hospital on causation and denied the summary judgment motion of codefendants/ As to the arguments made on behalf of the Hospital, Justice Spodek found that we demonstrated that any departures by the Hospital were not the proximate cause of the decedent’s deterioration and death. In the expert affirmation of our pulmonary medicine and critical care expert, our expert asserted that given the decedent’s aggressive pneumonia, septic shock and quick deterioration, the decedent’s death was inevitable upon admission to the Hospital. The expert affirmation of Plaintiffs’ anesthesiology expert failed to demonstrate an issue of fact with respect to causation because the expert did not address our expert’s assertion that some patients do not exhibit abnormal vital signs, that the decedent’s ability to oxygenate would not have improved until the infection was cleared from her lungs, and because he did not address the lab values or the decedent’s hypotension. Accordingly, Justice Spodek granted the Hospital summary judgment on causation.