Claimant, a pro se inmate at Mid-State Correctional Facility
("Mid-State"), seeks damages based upon allegations of inadequate and negligent
medical treatment related to post-operative care following surgery on his left
The trial of this claim took place at Marcy Correctional Facility on October
12, 2005, at which time claimant was the only witness to testify.
At trial, claimant testified that on October 23, 2001 he underwent an operation
on his left leg at Upstate Medical Hospital in Syracuse, New York. This surgery
occurred at a time when claimant was an inmate in the custody of the Department
of Correctional Services and housed at Mid-State. Claimant testified that
following surgery, on October 26, 2001, he was transported back to Mid-State in
what he considered was an "unsterile
Claimant then testified that on
the following day, he told a physician at Mid-State that there was something
wrong with his left leg, but that this physician did not examine his leg at that
time. Approximately 11 days later, claimant testified that his left leg
developed a "red and shiny" appearance. The following day, he developed a high
temperature, and was placed on three different antibiotics to treat an infection
in his leg. Claimant further testified that he eventually required another
operation to drain the infection which had developed in his leg.
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 denied 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
New York, 245 AD2d 653, lv denied 91 NY2d 810).
In this claim, it is claimant's contention that he received inadequate
treatment from the physicians and medical staff at Mid-State in his
post-operative care following the surgery on his left leg, and that this
inadequate treatment resulted in the serious infection which developed in his
leg, requiring further medical treatment.
It is common knowledge that the risk of post-operative infection is present in
any surgical procedure. Having said this, however, the fact that claimant
developed a post-operative infection does not, in and of itself, establish
negligent medical treatment. In order to determine whether the State breached
any duty to claimant in the treatment provided to him in this instance, expert
medical testimony is required to establish a deviation from accepted standards
of medical care (Macey v Hassam, 97 AD2d 919).
At trial, claimant offered only his own testimony as a layperson that the
medical treatment provided by medical staff at Mid-State was inadequate. He did
not present any medical proof with regard to his medical treatment, or lack
thereof, at the facility and in the absence of any such testimony from a medical
expert that the treatment received by him was improper, claimant has failed to
establish his claim for inadequate and negligent medical treatment.
Accordingly, this claim is hereby DISMISSED.
LET JUDGMENT BE ENTERED ACCORDINGLY.