Thursday, November 11, 2010

NY woman awarded $3.5 million for amputation she says came from ER delays

From The Times-Union in Albany, N.Y.:

ALBANY -- A Rensselaer County woman who blamed emergency room delays for the amputation of her leg in 2007 was awarded $3.5 million in damages Wednesday in state Supreme Court.

A jury ruled in favor of 55-year-old Peggy Pieper of Troy late Wednesday afternoon following a two-and-half-week trial that began Oct. 25 before acting Supreme Court Justice Gerald Connolly.

Pieper will receive $1 million for past pain and suffering, another $2.5 million for future pain, suffering and impacted quality of life.

The woman dislocated her knee on April 1, 2007, when she slipped in her driveway while picking up a newspaper. She went to St. Mary's Hospital in Amsterdam, near where she lived at the time, but faced delays, said her Albany-based attorney, Jeffrey Miller.

Miller said his client had an eight-hour window of opportunity for treatment before her injury led to the amputation -- but it was 10 1/2 hours by the time her surgery was complete.

Pieper was first treated at St. Mary's Hospital and later Albany Medical Center Hospital. Her leg needed to be amputated above the left knee.

The woman sued the Amsterdam hospital, Emergency Physician Services of New York, the Vascular Group and two doctors, Siavash Steve Okhravi and Manish Mehta.

The six-member jury, in a 5-1 decision, found both doctors departed from accepted medical standards in their care.

They also found it was a substantial factor in the injuries caused to Pieper.

Between the two doctors, the jury found Mehta 95 percent at fault and Okhravi 5 percent at fault.

Miller said Okhravi handled the emergency in Amsterdam and contacted Mehta for the transfer of Pieper to Albany.

The attorney said he never questioned procedures taken by the physicians, just that they did not handle his client's emergency in a timely manner.

He spoke to Pieper after the verdict was reached, he said.

"My client is delighted that the jury found in her favor," said Miller, of the firm of Friedman, Hischen and Miller. "She has a very difficult life, and hopefully this is going to make her life a little easier."