On August 29, 2018, the appellate court covering Nassau County reversed Justice John Galasso who had dismissed the malpractice claim of a college student against North Shore University Hospital, an emergency medicine physician and an orthopedist. The student was participating in try-outs for the college basketball team when he complained of pain in his lower leg from running - not from any specific trauma. An athletic trainer applied ice to the lower leg and suspecting compartment syndrome, sent the student to the local emergency room on crutches.
Compartment syndrome can be a life or limb threatening condition when excessive pressure builds up in a muscle which leads to impaired blood flow. The ER doctor ordered x-rays that proved negative and an orthopedist examined the student and reported no swelling, merely tenderness and weakness. Whether the student's lower limb was swollen was hotly disputed.
The student was discharged from the ER and given motrin. Five days later he was admitted to the hospital and underwent emergency surgery to relieve the compartment syndrome in his lower leg.The lower court granted the doctor's/hospital's motion for summary judgment and dismissed the case (without a jury trial) stating that the student's medical experts presented only conclusory and speculative arguments. The appellate court overruled the lower court finding that it was the defendant's experts who were engaging in conclusory and speculative arguments. A jury will now decide if there was a premature discharge from the hospital AND whether the delay in treating the compartment syndrome caused a worse outcome. Kelly v Rosca, 2018 WL 4101005