Doc: Patient's blindness an unavoidable result of treatment
|Wrong Site/Procedure, Medical Malpractice - Ophthalmologist|
|Peter Napolitano and Paula Napolitano v. Alan J. Katz, M.D., Carol A Bogdan, M.D. and Winthrop University Hospital, No. 19763/05|
|Nassau Supreme, NY|
|John M. Galasso
- Sal A. Spano; Edelman, Krasin & Jaye PLLC; Carle Place, NY, for Peter Napolitano, Paula Napolitano
- Robert Mickatavage MD; Ophthalmology; Purchase, NY called by: Sal Spano
- Andrew Weintraub Ph.D.; Economics; Rhinebeck, NY called by: Sal Spano
- Allen Meek; Radiation Oncology; Stony Brook, NY called by: Sal Spano
- Charles X. Connick; Law Offices of Charles X. Connick P.L.L.C.; Mineola, NY, for Alan J. Katz
- None reported; null, null, for Carol A. Bogdan, Winthrop-University Hospital
- Dr. Jay Bosworth; Radiation Oncology; Manhasset, NY called by: Charles Connick
- Jacqueline Bello; Neuroradiology; New York, NY called by: Charles Connick
- Medical Liability Mutual Insurance Co. for Katz
In February 2004, plaintiff Peter Napolitano, 48, a maintenance worker, commenced a course of intensity-modulated radiation therapy. The treatment was intended to dissolve a benign tumor of his right eyelid. It was rendered by Dr. Alan Katz, at Winthrop-University Hospital, in Mineola.
After some 20 sessions of therapy, Napolitano's right eye became irritated. The eye's vision gradually decreased until it was entirely lost.
Napolitano sued Katz, Winthrop-University Hospital and a hematologist who had been consulted regarding Napolitano's therapy, Dr. Carol Bogdan. Napolitano alleged that Katz and Bogdan failed to properly address his tumor, that the failures constituted malpractice, and that Winthrop-University Hospital was vicariously liable for Bogdan's actions.
Bogdan and Winthrop-University Hospital were dismissed, and the matter proceeded to a trial against Katz.
Napolitano's expert radiation oncologist opined that blindness is a known risk of the therapy that Katz provided, and Napolitano's counsel argued that a safer treatment method should have been utilized. He suggested electron-beam radiation with the use of a lead eye protector.
Katz contended that, because of the extremely rare nature of the tumor, with only a few reported cases, there was no accepted standard of care. He claimed that his dosage and treatment plan were appropriate and that they had been effective in his treatment of another patient who was suffering the same type of tumor: a xanthogranuloma.
Katz further contended that, because the tumor had spread to the posterior portion of the eye, electron-beam radiation would not have reached the tumor. The defense's expert radiation oncologist opined that a lower dose of intensity-modulated radiation therapy would have allowed the tumor to continue to grow, leading to blindness and, possibly, fatal brain damage.
Napolitano developed radiation-induced neovascular glaucoma and suffered permanent loss of vision in his right eye. He underwent laser surgery to control intraocular pressure. Further surgery has been recommended, included enucleation: removal of the eye.
Napolitano contended that his blindness prevents his resumption of work. He also contended that he cannot operate a motor vehicle.
Napolitano sought recovery of about $99,000 for future medical expenses, $296,000 for past lost earnings, $376,000 for future lost earnings, and unspecified damages for past and future pain and suffering. His wife presented a derivative claim.
Defense counsel contended that Mr. Napolitano did not seek treatment with an ophthalmologist until four months after the radiation had been completed. He claimed that Napolitano would not have required additional treatment had he sought ophthalmologic treatment earlier. He also claimed that Napolitano can resume work.
The jury rendered a defense verdict.
This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiffs' and defense counsel.