This is a claim by an inmate appearing pro se, alleging that medical staff
employed by the Department of Correction Services at Cayuga Correctional failed
to properly treat an injury to this left index finger.
Claimant testified that on April 20, 1996, while he was an inmate at Cayuga
Correctional Facility, he was playing football in the recreation yard when he
was struck in the left index finger with a football. He testified that he went
to the infirmary on the following morning, and was treated by a facility nurse,
who placed his finger in a splint and gave him Tylenol. Claimant also testified
that the nurse denied his request to be examined by a physician at the facility.
He further testified that he was examined by a facility nurse on April 29,
1996, May 3, 1996, and May 13, 1996, but that each of these examinations was
performed by a facility nurse, and not a physician. He then testified that he
was finally allowed to see a doctor at the facility on June 14, 1996, and that
the staff physician recommended that x-rays be taken, which were done on June
20, 1996. The x-rays indicated a probable fracture of the PIP joint in his left
index finger. Finally, on January 8, 1998, surgery was performed on an out
patient basis at the Harrison Center in Syracuse, New York.
Claimant contends that if he had been examined by a doctor within the first 48
hours following his injury, there would have been no need for the surgery, and
furthermore that as a result in the delay in treatment, he now suffers permanent
damage to his left index finger, which in turn has limited the use of his left
It is well settled that the State owes a duty to those inmates in its
institutions to provide them with medical care and treatment (
Gordon v City of New York
, 120 AD2d 562, affd
70 NY2d 839). This
care must be reasonable and adequate, as an inmate must rely upon the prison
authorities to treat and diagnose his medical needs (Rivers v State of New
, 159 AD2d 788, lv denied
76 NY2d 701).
however, bears the burden of establishing that the care and treatment afforded
him by staff at the State constituted a deviation from the applicable standard
of care (Hale v State of New York
, 53 AD2d 1025, lv denied
In this case, the Court has before it only the testimony of claimant, as well
as his ambulatory health record, in support of his claim of medical malpractice.
There was no competent medical evidence presented, either from a treating
physician or from an expert witness whose opinion was based upon claimant's
medical records to support his allegation of medical malpractice. In situations
where it is alleged that an inmate was deprived of appropriate and timely
medical attention and treatment, such a claim must be supported by expert
medical testimony, and this rule applies to pro se claimants (
Duffen v State of New York
, 245 AD2d 653, lv denied
91 NY2d 810).
In this claim, claimant had the burden of establishing that the treatment
received by him, and/or the delay in performing the treatment, was the proximate
cause of his damages. Aside from his testimony, claimant did not present any
competent medical proof that the treatment he received was not proper or that
the alleged delay caused or contributed to his injury.
In the absence of any competent medical proof that there was a deviation from
accepted medical standards, claimant has failed to establish a
case, and his claim must therefore be dismissed.
The Clerk of the Court is therefore directed to enter judgment in accordance
with this decision.