On December 26, 2019, an appellate court overruled a Bronx County trial court that had dismissed a malpractice claim concerning a 37 year old mother (of 6 children) who had recently given birth but returned to the hospital with complaints of shortness of breath, racing heart beat and dizziness. She was diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism (lung clot) but was not treated for over three hours because the emergency room physician “waited hours for blood tests and an angiogram to confirm the diagnosis.” The plaintiff's argued that immediate action was required as a pulmonary embolism is often fatal and the delay in treatment increased the risk of death.
The plaintiff's expert justified the need for a jury trial by contending that the standard of care required the prompt administration of the clot busting drug “tPA” (tissue plasminogen activator) which can “dissolve clots and open arteries in 10-15 minutes.” The ER physician contended that it was not his practice to administer tPA for a pulmonary embolism under any circumstances and that he reasonably relied on a blood thinner called heparin. However, even the defendant's expert conceded that the efficacy of heparin to dissolve existing clots is negligible. Heparin is only effective at preventing additional clot growth. A jury will decide which of the experts is credible. Barry v Lee, 2019 WL 7173601