Senior Trial Partner Rosaleen McCrory and Partner Karen Corbett secured summary judgment on behalf of our client, a home health-care agency. This Kings County Supreme Court case concerns home care rendered to the decedent, a total care, completely immobile, home-bound, 80 year old female who was suffering from metastatic ovarian cancer and senile dementia at the time of the care at issue. Her daughter brought this action on behalf of her mother’s estate sounding in negligence, medical malpractice and wrongful death. Our client’s home health care agency provided the services of a home health aide (HHA) 24 hours per day/7 days per week for 8 months. The HHAs were providing the decedent with maximum assistance which included incontinence care and turning and positioning her every two hours. The decedent developed multiple areas of skin breakdown on her buttocks and hips which were first observed 6 months our client started servicing the decedent. When the skin breakdown was discovered, a wound care nurse came to assess the wound, put wound care orders in place and educated the patient’s daughter as to how to perform wound care. The wounds did not improve and the patient died 12 weeks after the wounds appeared. She was not seen by any physicians during this period and no autopsy was performed. Plaintiff alleged that the skin breakdown the decedent developed were actually bedsores that they alleged that our client failed to prevent, diagnose, and properly treat, which allegedly became infected and resulted in the patient’s death.
Our motion for summary judgment was supported by an expert affirmation by a geriatric expert, who opined that the wounds at issue were unavoidable as they resulted from skin failure and/or were manifestations of cancer metastasis, and, therefore were wholly unrelated to our client’s services which the expert opined was compliant with the standard of care and played no role in the skin breakdown at issue or plaintiff’s death. The expert opined that the plan of care our client created for this patient was both appropriate and was complied with by our HHAs. In opposition, plaintiff's expert never stated what the standard of care was with regard to our client’s home health aides, and as such their opinion was deemed speculative and per se insufficient to raise an issue of fact regarding departure or causation. After oral argument, the court dismissed all claims.