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Defense Verdict in Case of Alleged Failure to Diagnose Rare Dermatologic Condition

July 3, 2015

Partner Daniel L. Freidlin obtained a defense verdict in Supreme Court, Nassau County. The suit, brought by the daughter of the deceased 81-year-old patient, alleged a failure to diagnose pyoderma gangrenosum following femoral-femoral bypass surgery. Following the surgical procedure, the patient developed a rash over the incision site that became ulcerated and progressively larger. After an extensive two-week workup including consultations in infectious diseases, plastic surgery and wound care, hematology, dermatology and allergy, an allergic reaction was ruled out and pyoderma gangrenosum was considered. To confirm the diagnosis, a biopsy was recommended but the patient instead elected to transfer her care to another hospital where the suspected condition was diagnosed and treated with steroids. The patient died three weeks later due in part to complications of steroid treatment. The plaintiff alleged that this 1:100,000 condition should have been considered earlier and that the delay contributed to the patient’s death. The defense demonstrated that pyoderma was a diagnosis of exclusion that was timely considered after all other possible conditions were systematically ruled out, and that the patient’s death was due to complications of the treatment. After a near month long trial, the jury returned a defense verdict finding that there was no delay in diagnosis and treatment.

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