Lisa Zenzen Baker, 1961-2003


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Snapshot of a life

A story that describes the
person behind the lawsuit

By David Baker
Posted Wednesday Nov. 28, 2012

Most of the stories on this blog are about allegations made in lawsuits.  Sometimes these stories will also contain a little information about the person, usually from an obituary notice, but even that can tell only so much about the person who died.

But occasionally more information is available that paints a broader picture of the person.  Such is the case with a story that appeared here in January of this year, that of 31-year-old Tara Palmer, who died at a Midwest airport from a blood clot that entered her lungs, one day after a doctor allegedly told her it was safe to fly following surgery on an ankle.

Tara had been a pre-school and primary school teacher in Troy.  Five months after her death, the Troy Record published an article about some people who had done something in her memory that would benefit some of  those children.

Links to that story and to the earlier post on this page about the lawsuit appear below.

Meanwhile, a year after the lawsuit was filed it has not yet been assigned to a judge.  This happens only when one of the parties files an RJI – a  request for judicial intervention.

The fact that no request has been filed doesn’t necessarily mean that case is being allowed to languish, but it’s unusual for one not to have been filed a year after service.  At last check earlier this month, the only documents on file at the Rensselaer County Clerk’s office were the complaint, an affidavit of service of the complaint, and an amended certificate of merit – a document in which the attorney states that he or she has consulted with at least one doctor who has said there appears to a basis for a claim.

The lawsuit names James A. Slavin, Burdette Orthopedics, Samaritan Hospital and Northeast Health, Inc.  It was filed in November 2011 by Christina Commisso of O’Connell & Aronowitz in Albany.  As was noted in the earlier story, this filing appears to create an ethical conflict; the Albany law firm represented Northeast Health Laboratories in a case against the state Department of Health.

The firm has also represented the Healthcare Association of New York; one of that organization's members is Samaritan Hospital.  And in 2007, the firm announced that six of its attorney would be members of a new ‘healthcare fraud and abuse unit’ which would defend medical providers under government investigation.
The Troy Record story is HERE

The earlier story on this page is HERE

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

In the public interest

An unhealthy alliance
about to be exposed

By David Baker
Posted Tuesday Nov. 27, 2012

It was in this month in 2003 that Lisa Zenzen-Baker was found in her bed in Samaritan Hospital unconscious, not breathing and with a blood glucose level recorded in her hospital’s chart as being at 2 milligrams per deciliter – far below the normal minimum of 80 mg/dL.  After three weeks in a coma and on life support she would be dead.  I had no idea then that nine years later I would find myself about to permanently change the public’s perception of not just one but two of the region’s most visible institutions.

Exposed soon will be on one side healthcare providers that are supposed to heal people – while at least, doing them no harm – that have spent a great deal of money over the past decade fighting claims of avoidable deaths and serious injuries; and on the other, Capital Region media organizations whose stated function is the gathering and distribution of information but which have willingly suppressed news of those claims while benefiting from a steady stream of advertising revenue from many of the defendants in those lawsuits.

Changing these perceptions requires no more than making that suppressed information – and the fact that it has been suppressed – readily available. With that news, people whose view of the two entities have been shaped in large part by those endless paid announcements will be able to form their own, perhaps new opinions on Capital Region healthcare and media organizations whose covert alliance has kept the public in the dark while doing nothing to improve the safely of patients.

Both sides have ignored repeated invitations to comment on this situation, perhaps to even start putting people before profit.  Now the managers of one of the medical providers are pursuing a lawsuit against this blog’s sister web page claiming money for alleged damage to their organization’s reputation, an extension of their tactic of aggressively fighting virtually every claim of harm even in cases where they know they are liable.

The impact this disclosure will have on the public at large and, more specifically, on the people employed by the providers, would be hard to overstate.

But ultimately the public will benefit from an enforced transparency and accountability, the unexpected result of that death in Samaritan Hospital in 2003.
Twitter: @answersforlisa

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Motion filed

                    Judge wants formal
                    request for records

By David Baker
Posted Tuesday Nov. 13, 2012

An attempt to get Samaritan Hospital/Northeast Health Inc. to produce any documents it has supporting its claim that its reputation has been damaged by the use of an Internet domain name will take several more weeks after the judge in the case said a motion would have to be filed to compel a response.

The effort started in early September with the serving of a notice to produce.  The notice made 15 demands for documents, all relating to the hospital’s claim for money for damages it says has been done to its reputation by the domain name and a logo that appeared on the page.  In particular, the notice asked for documents that showed any such damage was as a result of the name and logo, and not caused by the stories about previously unreported lawsuits alleging that patients had been killed or injured as a result of the negligence of the hospital’s staff or agents.

Other demands were for documents related to the company’s public relations and advertising expenditures. This is relevant as Northeast Health, along with other hospital in the area, has for years run a steady stream of ads in the media – even boasting about it in a staff newsletter – while that same media has for the past 12 years ignored those lawsuits that are now being reported on the Internet.

The hospital’s response to the notice to produce was 15 objections – but not a single item was provided.

Normally the next would be a conference in the judge’s chambers.  In fact, most judges and the court’s rules discourage the filing of a motion to resolve a discovery dispute.

But not Acting Supreme Court Justice Andrew Ceresia.  In a letter sent last week, he set a deadline of November 19 for a motion to compel production  of the requested documents.

So now the motion is out for service – more than a hundred pages and a $45 fee for filing – asking Ceresia to make the hospital produce the records or explain why documents showing the monetary loss it claims to have suffered are “…not relevant or material to this litigation”,  which is what one of the objections says.

The hospital’s lawyers have until December 3 to file a response.  Ceresia then has 60 days to issue a written decision.

This decision will be Ceresia’s second in this litigation.  In March, he was asked to avoid any perception of partiality by removing himself from the case because of his prior employment with the law firm that defended Samaritan Hospital over the death in 2003 of Lisa Baker.

He declined to step aside, while throwing out a counterclaim for medical records allegedly withheld by the hospital during the previous lawsuit.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Drug error alleged

                 St. Peter’s Hospital faces trial
                 for alleged morphine overdose

By David Baker
Posted Saturday Nov. 3, 2012

A lawsuit in which a woman claims she was permanently injured by an overdose of morphine at St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany is set for trial next year.

According to a pending lawsuit, following intestinal surgery Angela Ryan of Mechanicville NY was transferred to a recovery area, where morphine was administered through a patient-controlled medication dispenser.  The suit alleges that hospital staff improperly programmed the dispenser, causing Ryan to receive an excessive amount of the drug.

As a result, Ryan sustained  “severe and permanent damages, including but not limited to pain and suffering an loss of enjoyment of life,” the complaint says.

Representing Ryan is the law firm Conway & Kirby of Niskayuna.  The hospital’s lawyers are listed in the legal papers as  D’Agostino, Krackeler, McGuire of Menands (now known as McGuire Cardona) of Menands. 

The case is set for trial on June 10, 2013 before Albany County Supreme Court Justice Eugene Devine.

Bedsores prompt complaint

                    Lawsuit over hospital
                    patient’s ulcers settles

By David Baker
Posted Saturday Nov. 3, 2012

A lawsuit in which a woman claims that she was damaged when during three separate admissions to St. Peter’s Hospital bedsores developed and were not properly treated has been settled.

According to the suit, Shirley Jurusik of Cohoes, NY was first admitted for treatment of a broken femur – the thigh bone – and while there and allegedly as a result of the negligence of the staff, she developed decubitus ulcers.

A month later she was readmitted for a intestinal condition when, the suit says, the existing ulcers were not properly treated.

Four months  later Jurusik was admitted to the Albany hospital for a third time, and again ulcers were allegedly allowed to develop.

In addition to St. Peter’s Hospital, the lawsuit named three ‘Doe’ defendants – employees or agents of the hospital who identities were unknown.

The lawsuit was settled in August of 2011, according to the court system’s Web page.  It had been set for an October 2011 trial.

Representing Jurusik was the Latham law firm Hacker, Murphy.  The hospital lawyers are listed as  D’Agostino, Krackeler, McGuire of Menands (now known as McGuire Cardona) of Menands.