Congratulations to Senior Partner Kevin P. Burke, Esq. who recently obtained a defendant’s verdict on behalf of an on-call neurologist and his practice, in a medical malpractice action venued in Oneida County, New York.
This medical malpractice action involved a 51-year old patient who presented to the emergency room with numbness in his forearm and three fingers informing the doctors that the symptoms started at approximately 2:00 a.m. that day. He further informed the doctors that he had struck a tree root with his golf club the previous day. The initial defendant E.R. physician ordered a CT Scan which was negative for a stroke and who thought the patient suffered ulnar neuropathy. This E.R. physician consulted with the on-call neurologist who concurred in the diagnosis of ulnar neuropathy and the patient was discharged.
The patient returned to the emergency room three days later where he was seen by the second defendant E.R. physician. The patient complained that the numbness seemed to be spreading. This E.R. physician sought a neurosurgical consult and this physician believed that the patient had suffered a brachial plexus injury. The neurosurgeon followed the patient for several weeks for a suspected peripheral neuropathy. The neurosurgeon’s physician assistant ordered a MRI of the brachial plexus on August 2nd. Subsequently, the PA ordered an EMG and nerve conduction study. The plaintiff’s expert neurologist contended that an MRI and other tests including carotid artery ultrasound, should have been performed.
When the symptoms did not resolve, the patient was referred to the defendant physiatrist. This physician conducted nerve conduction testing and ruled out a brachial plexus injury. The physiatrist then recommended an MRI to rule out a central nervous system lesion but did not give her recommendation to the neurosurgeon until two days later. The day after his visit with the physiatrist, the patient suffered a major stroke and testing revealed a 99% occlusion in the left carotid artery.
The plaintiff maintained that if diagnosed before the major stroke, the clot could have been stented or addressed through a carotid endarterectomy. The defendants maintained that appropriate care was provided. The defense also confronted the plaintiff’s expert neurologist, who maintained that an MRI was necessary with a medical text authored by the expert which the defendants maintained reflected that in the case of an ischemic stroke, a CT scan is as sensitive as an MRI.
The defendant physiatrist maintained that she was asked to conduct a simple nerve conduction study which she did, that she had no reason to believe that the situation was emergent, and thatsending her recommendations to the neurosurgeon two days later did not reflect negligent care.
The jury returned a no cause as to all of the defendants