Posted on Mar 19, 2012
Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center has been in the news lately because it is struggling beneath a burden of over 100 open malpractice lawsuits -- a figure far higher than other comparable local facilities.

Brookdale is located in Brownsville, Brooklyn, on Rockaway Parkway. Complaints include a diabetic, whose puncture wound was infected so much so that his toes required amputation. Another patient was given penicillin, while wearing a bracelet indicating an allergy to the treatment. A baby's permanent brain and nervous system injuries are also blamed on a doctor's negligence during childbirth.

At least 12 patients died because of alleged malpractice. This includes a mugging victim with traumatic brain injuries and two others, who suffered fatal infections after entering the hospital with severe pressure ulcers.

The hospital is suffering other issues, including a $42 million shortfall in 2010. Its CEO, David Rosen, was also convicted last year for conspiracy to bribe three legislators from Brooklyn and Queens.

Among five financially-strapped Brooklyn hospitals recommended by a state panel for merger, Brookdale is the heaviest hit by lawsuits. Compared also to other similar and larger hospitals, its lawsuit figures are disproportionate. Brookdale has 330-360 beds. Maimonides Medical Center, meanwhile, with 700 beds, only has 80 open lawsuits. New York Methodist Hospital, with 600 beds, has only 55 cases. Four other local hospitals with about 280-310 beds have between 25 and 65 suits to contend with.

The records for Brookdale were been supplied by the Kings County Supreme Court of the State of New York.

While researching this story, the reporter from the Daily News called me to get my thoughts and opinions about her story. I was in Las Vegas with my family on vacation when I took her call. She wanted to know the significance of an inner-city hospital having more than 100 lawsuits. She wanted to know if it meant that the medical care and treatment received there was a reflection of the quality of the doctors and staff.

As an attorney who represents injured victims, it would've been easy and simple to say “Of course it is a reflection of the hospital staff.” The reality is that the answer is not clear-cut and here's why.

Anyone in New York who feels they have been wronged by someone else has a legal right to bring a lawsuit for medical negligence. Of course a physician must confirm that there is wrongdoing, that the wrongdoing caused injury and that the injury is significant or permanent. However, just because someone has filed a lawsuit does not in and of itself mean that there was negligence or carelessness. The lawsuit is just that, allegations. Throughout the course of the litigation process we learn more information and have experts determine what occurred and why. Only when a jury has concluded that there was wrongdoing, that the wrongdoing caused injury and that the injury is significant are they permitted to award compensation.

On its face, it would appear that having 100 lawsuits pending against Brookdale hospital was significant. Don't get me wrong, it is. However without knowing the detailed facts of every single case it is impossible to give someone a true and accurate picture that will answer the original question. 

That was the answer I gave the reporter. 

Apparently, she did not like my answer because obviously my interview with her was not quoted within the article. That's okay. 

However, the headline that appeared in the Daily News appeared to give the impression that just because a hospital has a certain number of lawsuits pending against it that the care and treatment provided by the hospital is substandard. It may turn out to be true. However, without reaching a jury verdict in each and every case and without knowing all the details that occurred in every single case it would be impossible to give an educated answer about the true significance of all of those lawsuits.


If you would like more information about how medical malpractice cases work in the state of New York, I encourage you to explore my educational website. If you have legal questions, I encourage you to pick up the phone and call me at 516-487-8207 or by e-mail at [email protected] to answer your questions. That's what I do every day. I welcome your call.

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Gerry Oginski
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NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer