Articles Posted in Negligent Supervision

On August 3, 2009, Narie Balkaran drowned at Jones Beach State Park on Long Island after being caught in a rip tide that pulled him into the ocean. Because Jones Beach State Park is a public park, Balkaran’s family sued the State of New York – stating that the State of New York should be held responsible for the death of Balkaran for two reasons – first, because it failed to warn the beachgoers of the rip tide and alternatively, because it failed to close down the beach during the rip tide. The Court dismissed these arguments, stating that the State of New York only had a duty to beachgoers of “general supervision” and that the State was not responsible for warning swimmers of threats “arising from the existence of natural, transitory conditions of the ocean floor” when the lifeguards did not actually know of the rip tide existence at the time of Balkaran’s death.

The Court agreed with Balkaran’s family that State of New York has some responsibility for beachgoers on a public beach. The Court said that the State must act “as a reasonable person” in maintaining its property and keeping it safe for the public. According to the Court, this includes both general maintenance of public beach and general supervision of the beach. The Court then found that the State of New York satisfied this obligation by having a sufficient number of lifeguards (who were both “experienced and competent”), and that the lifeguards reacted to the situation by following proper procedures.

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A study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has found voice activation technology in cars to be distracting and that it takes drivers 27 seconds to regain full alertness after making a command.  For example, a car going 25 mph can travel the length of three football fields before the driver’s brain fully refocuses on driving after use of this technology. One of the researchers compared the use of these systems to balancing a checkbook while driving, something no one would do. Researcher and professor at the University of Utah, David Strayer, stated once a person shifts their attention to interacting with the device they stop scanning the road and do not anticipate hazards or things in their way.

573 adult drivers were surveyed for the study in Washington, D.C. and concluded that hands-free driving distracts one-third of drivers even with their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. Seven out of 10 surveyors believed they were only distracted for 10 seconds after using an in-vehicle device to dial a phone number or change the radio station. Meanwhile, 88% said they believe other drivers are “very distracted or somewhat distracted” while using these devices. AAA spokesman, John B. Townsend stated that everyone believes they are the exception, exaggerating our ability to handle these technologies and loathing the thought of other people using it. Continue reading

Angelita Williamson, a surgical nurse aide in East Harlem, has been accused of silencing an elderly patient’s life-support alarm overnight in order to get some rest. On January 13, 2015 Williamson was assigned the task of a “one-to-one observation” in which she would monitor the patient’s ventilator overnight to ensure it was working. Colleagues claim they caught the surgical aide sleeping several times during the night with the curtain to the room drawn.

An administrative hearing was held in which three members of the hospital staff attested to Williamson’s sleeping. One person saw her wrapped in a blanket asleep with the lights off and another said she had to shake and hit her to wake her up. The third person stated he entered the room before dawn and saw the patient’s oxygen alarm going off, but the sound had been muted.  Despite the events, the patient was unharmed. Continue reading

On May 6, 2016 six rallies were held throughout the state of New York by the Nurses Association to gain support for a bill that will create a standard for nurse to patient ratios. The bill, called Safe Staffing for Quality Care, calls for higher levels of staff at hospitals in an effort to provide better care for patients. The bill was introduced to the Assembly by Aileen Gunther, Assemblywoman of Forestburgh in Orange County. Gunther stated that the issue of safe staffing is very important to her as she is the only registered nurse in the Assembly; she also speaks with nurses who believe this bill would have a significant positive impact by improving patient outcomes, reducing nurse injuries and saving hospitals money.

If the bill were put into legislation, hospitals and nursing homes would be required to have nurse-to-patient ratios, develop minimum staffing requirements and staffing plans that would be submitted to the state Department of Health yearly as a pre-requisite for license renewal. Nurses will have the option of refusing work if proper staffing were not in place.  The nurse to patient ratio would vary depending on each situation, for example, one nurse to an operating room might be sufficient but one nurse to six patients might be sufficient in a well-baby nursing unit. Public access to staffing plans would also be required and civil penalties will be given if the plans are violated.

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NYU Langone Medical Center was investigated by the state after a patient caught fire during surgery; the facility was cited due to lapses in safety procedures and communication.  The fire took place in December 2014 when a medical instrument accidentally reacted with the patient’s oxygen and sparked a fire. The Department of Health inspected the hospital and declared an “immediate jeopardy” situation due to the gaps in safety procedures and communication.  The New York Post was able to obtain the report on the incident through a Freedom of Information Law request,  however the report was heavily redacted.

The name of the patient, nature of surgery, and type of instrument that caused the fire were not revealed in the report, making it unclear as to what injuries the patient sustained. The operating room staff told investigators that a fire-risk assessment was conducted prior to the surgery, but they did not provide any details of the strategies or actions of prevention that were discussed. The operation room fire occurred at the beginning of December, but there was no evidence that the hospital took remedial steps to implement prevention protocols until the after the state inspection later that month.

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On April 1, a young construction worker fell to his death while working on a two-family house in Brooklyn. Alex Santizo, 21, of Queens was working on the second floor of the home when a piece of debris struck him in the head and caused him to tumble through an air shaft from the second floor of the building to the basement. NYPD arrived at the scene around 2:15 pm in response to a call reporting an unconscious person. A witness said that when EMS workers removed him his face was covered in blood; he was taken to the hospital, but could not be saved.

Santizo’s family gathered at the job site on Saturday in remembrance of him. His mother was deeply upset as she left her apartment in Queens, saying she was very sad and was going to be with her family. The family did not have any details about the tragic loss at the time, his mother said she heard it was an accident.

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In a report released January 2015, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) found that there were 10,388 severe workplace injuries in 2015; 7,636 of those injuries resulted in hospitalization and 2,644 resulted in amputations. The manufacturing industry has the highest reported accidents, accounting for 57% of all amputations and 26% of all hospitalizations, followed by the construction, transportation and warehousing industries. This data was collected by OSHA from 26 states with higher safety standards than federally mandated.

The report came as the result of new regulations that require companies to report serious workplace accidents within 24 hours. This new program took effect on January 1, 2015 in an effort to reduce the amount of workplace injuries; currently there are 30 severe work-related injuries a day. OSHA stated that during investigations of fatal injuries they often find a history of serious injuries at the site, which was a wake-up call that safety issues were being disregarded. Continue reading

In Patel v. American Medical Response, Inc., et al, the representative of a deceased patient brought a negligence action against an ambulance operator and hospital to recover damages for personal injuries sustained after EMT left him unattended on a scale.  The patient fell off the scale. The Supreme Court of Nassau County denied the hospital’s motion for summary judgment and the hospital appealed. The Appellate Division held that an issue of fact existed and precluded summary judgment in favor of the hospital.

In 2009, plaintiff’s decedent was suffering from end-stage renal disease and received dialysis treatment three times a week at a dialysis unit operated by Winthrop University Hospital. The decedent testified at a deposition that on October 9, 2009, two emergency medical technicians, employed by the defendant, American Medical Response, Inc., transported him by ambulance from his home to the dialysis Treatment facility.  According to decedent’s testimony, the EMTs brought him to the dialysis unit on and off a stretcher and later helped him stand up on a scale. However, the EMTs left the patient unattended while on the sale, where he lost his balance, fell, and sustained injuries. He later filed a personal injury lawsuit to recover damages for his personal injuries. He later died from his underlying medical condition, when his son, was substituted as the plaintiff in this matter.

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Jennifer Melton delivered a beautiful and healthy baby boy named Nate on December 16, 2015 at University Medical Center in Tennessee. Jennifer was encouraged by a nurse to allow her newborn to be taken to the nursery for a check-up.  As this is routine, Jennifer tried to get some rest.

Nate was returned a few hours later by a nurse who began to mention a “tongue-clipping” procedure that was performed on the 1 day old baby. Jennifer looked at the nurse and asked what she was talking about; the nurse began to explain how the procedure would help with their nursing problems. Jennifer responded that she must have the wrong paperwork because they were not experiencing any nursing issues and that she never heard anything about a tongue clipping procedure.  The news that the doctor mistakenly performed surgery on her child left her hysterical. Continue reading

The New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department in Montenegro v P12, LLC, 2015 NY Slip Op 05919 [130 AD3d 695] reversed a lower court’s decision granting a defendant’s motion for summary judgment to dismiss a cause of action alleging a violation of Labor Law § 241(6), predicated on 12 NYCRR 23-1.8(a).

The plaintiff was employed as a carpenter on a renovation project at a premises owned by the defendant.  The plaintiff was injured while using a pneumatic nail gun to attach molding around a window.  He was struck in the eye with a nail and sustained injuries to the eye. Continue reading

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