Claimant, an inmate appearing
, alleges negligence against the State for its failure to provide
him with proper and adequate medical treatment. A trial was held on this claim
at Marcy Correctional Facility on July 9, 2003, at which time claimant was the
According to his claim and trial testimony, claimant underwent an operation on
June 30, 1999, while he was incarcerated at Mohawk Correctional
Facility, to repair ingrown toenails on each of his great toes. Following the
surgery, claimant was sent back to his room in the dormitory at the facility,
but he asserts that he did not receive his prescribed medication to relieve his
pain until July 6, 1999. Claimant therefore seeks damages for the pain and
suffering which resulted because of the delay of approximately seven days in
which he claims he was not given his prescribed medication.
A certified copy of claimant's medical records was entered into evidence (see
Defendant's Exhibit A), and the Court also received copies of the medical
records which had been provided to claimant (see Claimant's Exhibit 1).
A review of these records confirms that the operation to correct the two
ingrown toenails was performed on June 30, 1999, and Keflex (500 milligrams to
be taken twice a day for a two week period) was prescribed in fact to start on
that day. There are notations in the medical records that the Keflex was
started on June 30
th (see, medical records dated July 6, 1999, and notations on the consultation
report dated June 30, 1999). At trial, however, claimant introduced a
prescription envelope, indicating that the Keflex (cephalexin) was not provided
to him until July 6, 1999. It was claimant's position that this
prescription is confirmation that there was a delay from June 30, 1999 to July
6, 1999 before claimant received his prescribed medication, even though the
notes set forth in claimant's medical records indicate that this medication had
been provided to claimant as of June 30, 1999.
It is well settled that the State has a duty to provide reasonable and
adequate medical care to the inmates of its correctional facilities (
Rivers v State of New York
, 159 AD2d 788, lv denied
76 NY2d 701).
If the alleged negligent act or omission is readily determinable by the trier of
fact based upon common knowledge, the appropriate theory of recovery is
negligence (Coursen v New York Hospital-Cornell Med. Center
, 114 AD2d
254). However, if a patient's treatment, or lack thereof, is in controversy, a
claim is more appropriately premised upon the more particularized theory of
medical malpractice (Hale v State of New York
, 53 AD2d 1025, lv
40 NY2d 804). Whether a claim is couched in terms of negligence or
medical malpractice, expert medical proof will be required if the issues involve
conditions beyond the common knowledge of a fact finder (Duffen v State of
, 245 AD2d 653, lv denied
91 NY2d 810).
In this case, even if the Court were to credit claimant's testimony that he was
denied his medication for approximately seven days (though this testimony was
contradicted by numerous entries in his health records), claimant did not
produce any expert medical testimony as to the effect, if any, that the lack of
such medication during this time contributed to the normal pain to be expected
following his surgery. The question of whether medications, or the lack
thereof, may have contributed to an injury is not a matter which can be decided
in the absence of expert testimony (
Duffen v State of New York
Therefore, the Court must find that claimant has failed to establish his claim
by a preponderance of the credible evidence. Accordingly, this claim must
therefore be dismissed.
Any motions not heretofore ruled upon are hereby denied.
LET JUDGMENT BE ENTERED ACCORDINGLY.