May 12 2016

The Effects of Traumatic Birth Syndrome

According to medical researchers specializing in the care and treatment of newborns, there has been a rise in traumatic birth syndrome — the effects of which could adversely affect a newborn’s well-being.

Traumatic birth syndrome describes the presence of trauma-induced skull and spinal damage and spinal misalignment as a result of the birth process. The trauma on the newborn is magnified by the supine position of the mother (lying on her back), the force she applies to push the baby out, the use of drugs to ease the mother’s pain and induce labor, and the use of surgical interventions. After the birth, the baby may experience vertebral subluxation.

During the pushing stage of labor, the spine may be injured as the fetus is compressed and pushed down the birth canal. The main cause of subluxation is the pulling, twisting and compression of the infant’s spine during birth. If something alters normal birth, subluxations will occur at the greatest point of stress (the upper and lower cervical vertebrae). In severe cases, these can result in more obvious clinical nerve damage (such as paralysis), but more frequently subluxations are unnoticed by physicians and parents until later in the child’s life.

Children with traumatic birth syndrome may suffer from the following: colic, sleep disorders, symptoms of lowered immunity, poor development and more. Some subluxations have been found to be severe enough to lead to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

If your newborn child has been injured or suffered traumatic birth syndrome due to a doctor or hospital’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. Seeking the guidance of an experienced attorney is vital in protecting your rights. Contact the dedicated, experienced attorneys at Alegria & Barovick LLP for the representation you deserve. Call (914) 761-1133.

Apr 15 2016

When Email Is Evidence Of Continuous Treatment

Medical malpractice lawyers know that a lawsuit for medical, dental or podiatric malpractice must be commenced within two years and six months of the malpractice. Barring an exception or two, any case that is brought beyond this time limit will be dismissed.  That is why this limit, memorialized in New York CPLR 214-a, is known as a “statute of limitations.”

A frequently-invoked exception to the statute is the continuous treatment doctrine.   For example, if you were being treated by a doctor who injured you through a medical error, and you did not realize that his error had caused your injury until more than two and one half years after that error had occurred, you could still bring a lawsuit, if you can show that you continued being treated by the errant doctor, for the same general condition,  after the statute of limitations had expired.  In effect, your two and one-half year time limit would not begin to run until all treatment had stopped.

A medical malpractice victim’s best evidence when trying to make use of the continuous treatment doctrine is medical records that comprehensively document the treatment, and the nature of the doctor-patient relationship, in the wake of the incident (or incidents) of malpractice. Recently, however, New York State Supreme Court Justice Alice Schlesinger, who sits in New York County, found that emails between the defendant podiatrist, and the plaintiff patient, were enough to extend the statute of limitations by two days–enough to save the plaintiff’s case from being dismissed. The case is Caesar v. Brookman, 800004/15, NYLJ 1202754584903, at *1 (NY Co. Sup. Ct, 3-30-16).  She interpreted the messages shared between plaintiff and defendant as being in the nature of further medical treatment, since the defendant podiatrist advised plaintiff to “take the antibiotics just in case” certain symptoms were indicative of infection, after plaintiff had written complaining of new symptoms suggestive of a serious infection, that were out of proportion to the reactions that a foreign object in plaintiff’s heel–his presenting complaint–would have caused. The defendant’s malpractice allowed a MRSA infection to develop in plaintiff’s foot, resulting in the need for surgery, which left the plaintiff with atrophied muscles, weight gain, severe levels of coronary plaque, and the need for biweekly visits to a wound care facility for months.

You might not expect a couple of emails to mean much in a medical malpractice case. But here, they made the difference between the life and death of that case. And as a result, the plaintiff has an opportunity for just compensation for his injuries.

Mar 28 2016

New York Sets No Limits on Non-Economic Damages

In a medical malpractice lawsuit, a successful plaintiff may be compensated for economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include medical costs and compensation for lost wages. Non-economic damages are for losses that are hard to quantify, such as loss of the ability to biologically have children, pain and suffering, mental anguish, and disfigurement, among many others. Most states have a cap on how much in non-economic damages can be awarded. New York State does not have a cap, and so medical malpractice insurance rates can be higher to cover larger awards.

Some argue that non-economic damages caps create a “caste” system because generally women and children most often receive the majority of their compensation as non-economic damages. If an injured individual has lost wages or medical bills, those are straightforward and can easily be calculated. On the other hand, the amount of pain and suffering, or the loss of the ability to bear a child, is much more difficult to evaluate. Women and children often receive large amounts in non-economic damages because of the type of injury they suffered. For example, if a child is a victim of medical malpractice and has brain damage, or some type of permanent disfigurement, a jury can look at the lifetime effects that injury will have on the child’s quality of life. Without a cap on damages, the child is supposed to receive enough in non-economic damages to cover his or her lifetime. In states which have a cap, the same child would only be able to receive a set amount. In capped states, a child is put at a disadvantage because they will receive the same amount of damages as someone much older, but in general will live much longer and need more of an award.

New York State has taken an innovative approach to the future health care costs of infant plaintiffs who suffer birth-related neurological injuries. In 2011, it established the Medical Indemnity Fund, which purports to cover the future costs of such plaintiffs’ health care on an as-needed basis.

If you have been injured due to a doctor or hospital’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. Seeking the guidance of an experienced attorney is vital in protecting your rights. Contact the dedicated, experienced attorneys at Alegria & Barovick LLP for the representation you deserve.  Call (914) 761-1133.

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