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NY: failure to diagnose strep infection in child: congestive heart failure leads to valve surgery.

CASE FACTS: On February 15, 1998, eight-and-one-half-year-old Krystina Leha was taken to Yonkers General Hospital, where she was admitted for three days and treated for a sore throat. A throat culture taken at the time proved positive for strep throat. Krystina was subsequently discharged from the hospital with a seven-day course of amoxicillin. During the next several months, Krystina continued to complain of a sore throat and visited the emergency room at the hospital on May 4, 1998 and again on May 18, 1998, where she was seen by Hema Santhanam and Christine Sosenko-Porytko, both nurse practitioners. Santhanam diagnosed viral pharyngitis and Sosenko-Porytko diagnosed an upper respiratory infection. On neither occasion was the child admitted to the hospital. On May 29, 1998, Krystina was having difficulty breathing and on May 30, 1998, her mother took her to St. Joseph's Medical Center, where she was seen in the emergency room by Dr. Christopher Melcer, who discharged her with instructions to gargle, use throat lozenges, and follow up with an ear, nose, and throat specialist. Krystina's condition worsened overnight and, on May 31, 1998, she returned to St. Joseph's, where she was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. Thereafter, she was transferred to Westchester County Medical Center, where she was treated, released, and readmitted in June 12998. She was permanently released on July 2, 1998. In January 2002 she underwent aortic valve surgery Suit was brought by Krystina and her parents against Yonkers General Hospital and all of the individuals and hospitals involved in her treatment. The Supreme Court of New York, Westchester County, denied the plaintiffs motion to set aside a jury verdict in favor of all defendants. The plaintiffs appealed.

COURT'S OPINION: The New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, affirmed the judgment of the lower court. The court held, inter alia, that to conclude as a matter of law that a jury verdict is not supported by sufficient evidence, there must be "no valid line of reasoning and permissible inferences which could possibly lead rational men to the conclusion reached by the jury on the basis of the evidence presented at trial." Moreover, "the standard for determining whether a jury verdict is against the weight of the evidence is whether the evidence so preponderated in favor of the movant that the verdict could not have been reached on any fair interpretation the evidence. Although the jury found that the nurse practitioners involved were negligent in failing to test Krystina for strep throat, it further found that the negligence was not a substantial factor in causing the patient's injuries. Leha v. Yonkers General Hospital, 2004-06267 (N.Y. App. Div. 10/31/2005) 22 AD.3d 809

Meet the Editor & Publisher: A. David Tammelleo, JD, is a nationally recognized authority on health care law. Practicing law for over 40 years, he concentrates in health care law with the Rhode Island firm of A. David Tammelleo & Associates. He has presented seminars on medical, nursing and hospital law throughout the United States. In addition to his writings as Editor of Medical Law's, Nursing Law's & Hospital Law's Regan Reports, his legal articles have been published in the most prestigious health law journals. A prolific writer, his thousands of articles, as well as his achievements as an attorney and lecturer, have won him recognition in Martindale-Hubbell's Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers, Marquis Who's Who in American Law, Who's Who in America and Who's Who in the World.
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Title Annotation:Hospital Law Decisions of Note
Author:Tammelleo, A. David
Publication:Hospital Law's Regan Report
Date:Nov 1, 2005
Words:570
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