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Medical Malpractice Results in Chemical Burn to Skin

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In March 2009, Rakefet Grullon was admitted to a hospital in Manhasset following the sudden onset of symptoms, including shortness of breath, fatigue and swelling of the neck. A CT scan revealed a very large mass, and a biopsy of the mass confirmed the diagnosis of lymphoma.

Ms. Grullon, then 33 years old, was treated with the administration of  chemotherapy via a mediport which was implanted in her chest wall and accessed  with a  needle in order to deliver the  medications. Shortly after beginning the administration of Adriamycin, the needle became displaced and the toxic drug was infused into tissue surrounding the mediport, causing injuries.

In Ms. Grullon’s  ensuing lawsuit against the doctor who supervised the procedure (and his practice), the Queens County jury determined on 6/23/17 that the doctor departed from good and accepted medical practice by not sending plaintiff to interventional radiology to confirm that the needle was adequately positioned. The jury awarded plaintiff pain and suffering damages in the sum of $800,000 (all past – eight years).

The defendants argued in a post-trial motion that the jury verdict on liability was against the weight of the evidence and a judgment should be entered in their favor dismissing the complaint. The motion was denied. They also argued that the pain and suffering award was excessive and should be reduced. That aspect of their motion was granted and the trial judge ordered a reduction of the pain and suffering damages to $200,000.

The defendants appealed but in Grullon v. Thoracic Surgical, P.C. (2d Dept. 2022), the appellate court affirmed the trial judge’s order.

Here are the injury details:

  • chemical burn resulting in necrosis of 3 inch diameter area of fatty tissue on chest
  • purple-red discoloration of skin
  • emotional discomfort
  • pain requiring Neurontin

Plaintiff testified that the affected area was very painful during the first year with gradual improvement since then with less pain each day.

Plaintiff claimed she has limitations in strength and range of motion in her right arm but since the date of her chemotherapy treatment, she never had any treatment for her right arm at all and she offered no medical testimony as to any range of motion or strength limitations in her arm.

Inside Information:

  • Plaintiff did not assert a claim for future pain and suffering damages.
  • This was the second trial of the same case; there was a mistrial in 2014 (for reasons not relevant to this appeal).

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