Last week an appellate court reversed a trial court that had granted summary judgment to a nephrologist (kidney specialist) and vascular surgeon dismissing the malpractice claim brought by the family of a patient who died due to a complications of dialysis treatment. The appellate court explained that the defendant vascular surgeon had surgically created an arteriovenous fistula (AVF) in the patient's arm to allow access for dialysis treatment. Approximately 10 months later, a nurse at the dialysis center suspecting that the AVF was infected, spoke with a nephrologist who agreed the patient should be evaluated at Kings County Hospital. Once evaluated by the defendant vascular surgeon at the hospital, the patient was cleared for further dialysis.
Following two dialysis treatments in the next six days the patient was found dead due to a rupture of the AVF. The appellate court noted that the patient's family was entitled to a jury trial because there was an issue of fact whether the vascular surgeon and nephrologist departed from accepted standards of medical care "by continuing with dialysis on an AVF that presented with infection and aneurysmal dilatation and whether the continued dialysis caused the AVF to rupture." Hutchinson v New York City Health & Hospitals Corporation, 2019 WL 2112863