Summary Judgment in Suffolk County

HPM&B recently obtained Summary Judgment on behalf of a radiologist and a radiology group in a case involving the alleged failure to diagnose a bleeding pituitary tumor.  The patient presented to the Emergency Room at a Long Island hospital with various complaints, including a headache.  A CT of the head was interpreted as negative by the defendant radiologist who was working as a “nighthawk” radiologist in another state performing preliminary reviews of films at that local hospital.  Approximately eight hours later, the film was reinterpreted by a hospital radiologist as demonstrating the presence of a pituitary tumor.  There also was a one-day delay in notifying the patient of the tumor, and the patient was unable to obtain an MRI for several days due to a holiday weekend.

Four days later, the patient was admitted to a different hospital, and underwent a neurosurgical procedure approximately thirteen days after the alleged film was misread.  Plaintiff alleged an assortment of neurologic deficits, including memory and cognitive problems, lack of energy and headaches, all allegedly relating to the failure to diagnose the bleeding pituitary tumor.

HPM&B moved for Summary Judgment strictly on the issue of causation.  Expert affidavits were submitted by a neuroradiologist, an endocrinologist, and a neurosurgeon.  These expert opinions demonstrated that the delay in diagnosis did not change the manner or method of the eventual neurosurgical procedure, and that there was no additional bleeding between the time of the alleged misdiagnosis and the surgery.  These experts also opined that the performance of the surgery was not a medical emergency.  Defendants’ expert endocrinologist averred that all of the plaintiff’s medical problems related to the removal of the pituitary tumor, which had to be removed, as opposed to the alleged failure to diagnose the tumor.

Plaintiff’s counsel opposed the Motion for Summary Judgment with an affidavit of a Board Certified neurologist.

The Supreme Court, Suffolk County (Pitts, J.) concluded that the opinions of plaintiff’s experts were speculative and conclusory, and unsupported by the evidentiary proof in the record.  Moreover, the Court concluded that the defendants established that plaintiff’s alleged injuries were not proximally caused by the alleged failure to timely diagnose the tumor.  Accordingly, the Court dismissed plaintiff’s Complaint.

HPM&B partner Vincent L. Gallo represented the radiologist and her medical group on the Motion.