A health clinic associated with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and a physician working there won dismissal of a $25 million medical malpractice suit alleging failure to diagnose. Goldberg Segalla’s Michael E. Appelbaum and Christina Holdsworth represented the clinic in this case, which creates case law favorable to health care providers and reaffirms the standard of care our client provides.
The complicated, 17-day bench trial involved conflicting testimony and detailed analysis of symptoms and standards of care for a rare spinal nervous condition, cauda equina syndrome, a nervous condition that can cause paralysis, impaired bladder function, difficulty walking, and other neurological and physical problems. Judge William M. Skretny of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York ruled that the clinic and the supervising physician were not liable for damages the plaintiff sustained due to allegedly late diagnosis.
According to medical experts, there are certain “red flag” symptoms of the condition, which requires rapid treatment. The defense argued that the plaintiff did not present with these symptoms until three days after he first visited the clinic. When the plaintiff eventually presented with the symptoms at the VA Hospital, his hospital health care providers diagnosed the condition and began surgery within 24 hours — which is consistent with the standard of care, according to expert testimony from both sides. Judge Skretny rejected the plaintiff’s claim that he had informed the clinic staff of difficulty urinating (one of the classic symptoms) three days earlier, as the claim conflicted with numerous medical records and credible testimony from the plaintiff’s physicians.
“The judge paid close attention throughout the trial and he got everything exactly right,” Mike told Law360, which reported on the significant outcome.