Lisa Zenzen Baker, 1961-2003


Friday, November 21, 2014

Heart damage alleged

Lawsuit: Misplaced catheter
caused woman’s death

By David Baker
Posted November 21, 2014
205 word

The estate of a woman who died one day after her heart allegedly was cut by a catheter that was intended to drain fluid from around her left lung is suing two doctors, a nurse and Albany Medical Center Hospital.

Ruth A. Cancilla of Troy died in the hospital at the age of 69.

Named in the complaint are physicians Meridith Englander and Lawrence Keating, and a family nurse practitioner, Christopher Doti,. Also named is Community Care Physicians, a medical practice based in Latham.

According to the complaint “…when said procedure for the placement of the pleural catheter was performed on March 29, 2012, the needle was not placed into the pleural space but was placed into the pericardial space.” As a result, the suit says, Cancilla’s heart was punctured, causing her death.

The lawsuit demands unspecified compensatory damages for wrongful death, medical malpractice and negligence. It was filed in January 2014 by the law firm Martin, Harding and Mazzotti.

Representing the defendants are the Albany firms Carter, Conboy, Case, Blackmore, Maloney & Laird, and Maynard, O’Connor, Smith & Catalinotto.

A search of Capital District newspaper archives produced only an obituary notice, which says Ruth Cancilla died “suddenly” on March 30, 2012.

Bathroom injury

 The door hit her on the way out

By David Baker
Posted Nov. 21, 2014
132 words

Injuries in hospitals are common. But sometimes it’s nothing to do with medical care.

Amy Dibello claims she received serious injuries while she was in Albany Medical Center.

It happened, according to her lawsuit against the hospital, when a door fell on her.

“On or about January 16, 2013, while the plaintiff was an invited patron at the defendant’s aforesaid hospital, she was caused to incur serious personal injuries when a bathroom door in Room M512 suddenly and without warning came off its hinges and fell on plaintiff.”

The suit says Dibello’s claim for damages include “…exacerbation of cervical, thoracic and lumber back injuries, loss of use and motion, loss of enjoyment of life, pain and suffering and medical expenses.”

The claim was filed in January in state Supreme Court, Rensselaer County. Dibello’s attorney is Paul Dwyer of Loudonville.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Radiologist faces suit

Missed hip fracture left woman
with permanent disability, suit says

By David Baker
Posted Nov. 19, 2014
536 words

A woman who was sent to physical therapy with a broken hip after a radiologist reported that there was no fracture is claiming compensation from the doctor, his medical group and Ellis Hospital in Schenectady.

This, according to the lawsuit, is what happened:  In October 2012, Marilyn Snare fell while at Proctor’s Theater in  Schenectady and was taken by ambulance to the emergency room at Ellis Hospital, where ex-ray images and CT scans of her left hip were taken. Later, in a report of a review of the x-rays, a radiologist, Dr. John D. Fulco, wrote that “no fractures or dislocations are documented.”

Snare went home, where she continued to complain of extreme pain in her left hip.

The next day, Snare’s daughters brought her back to Ellis Hospital, but despite Snare’s complaints of excruciating pain and her repeated requests for either more x-rays or at least another review of the earlier images, no further x-rays were done. Snare was given a referral for physical therapy.

Two days later Snare was discharged with a transfer summary signed by an Ellis Hospital staff physician, Pajesh Ghimire, in which one notation said: “CT of Pelvis without IV contrast, Impression of fracture, dislocation is evident,” while another note said “Hip X-ray: Impression, Degenerative Joint, left hip joint, no fracture of dislocation noted.”

For the following nine days, Snare received physical therapy at the Ellis Residential and Rehabilitation Center, where staff members noted in her chart that she was in “screaming pain,” and while her daughters repeatedly asked for either another x-ray or a review of the existing images.

“Finally, on October 16, 2012, a further MRI was performed which revealed that the Plaintiff now had a displaced fracture of her left hip. On October 22, 2012, the Plaintiff’s left hip was operated on and repaired by means of an artificial hip.”

According to the compliant, Snare has been permanently disabled as a result of the failure to report a non-displaced fracture of the neck of the left femur which, it says, “is “obvious to a layman and should clearly have been detected by a trained radiologist … the progression of the Plaintiff’s left hip from the non-displaced fracture shown in Exhibit ‘A’ to the displaced fracture shown in Exhibit ‘C’ all took place during and as a result of the physical therapy and/or rehabilitate services prescribed for and administer to the Plaintiff by the Defendant Ellis Hospital. 

“Prior to October 2, 2012, the Plaintiff was a healthy and fully independent widower [sic], living independently in a two-story house and who had just purchased a new vehicle in which to get herself around. Following the operation on October 22, 2012, she has not regained the full use of her left leg and she now requires full-time live-in assistance, cannot drive an automobile and ambulates by means of a walker.”

In addition to Fulco, the complaint names Schenectady Radiologists and Ellis Hospital. It was filed by the Tuttle Law Firm of Schenectady.

Representing the defendants are the law firms Thorne, Gershon, Tymann & Bonanni, and Burke, Scolamiero, Mortati & Hurd, both of Albany.

A check of archives of the area’s three daily newspapers – including the Schenectady-based Daily Gazette – produced no indication that details of the lawsuit have been published.


Restricted info

Legal papers contain only brief
details of Troy attorney’s cases

By David Baker
Posted Nov. 19, 2014
346 words

Two lawsuits filed this year by Troy attorney E. Stewart Jones against Samaritan Hospital, St. Peter’s Health Partners – and in one of them, also a doctor – each allege that a patient was injured.

In both cases, Jones filed only a summons with notice rather than a complaint, as is done with most filings. A complaint usually sets out in detail the alleged facts of the claim; a notice gives only a brief summery of the case.

One reason for doing this could be to reduce the detail that can be published, thus protecting the defendants in his cases from unwelcome publicity. Jones appears to have started the practice soon after details of a claim by the estate of R. Alec McKenzie appeared here.

McKenzie, who was 81, died in Samaritan Hospital in 2004 after his blood glucose level was recorded in a hospital chart as 37 mg/dL; at 60 mg/dL or less a patient is hypoglycemic, at risk of becoming unconscious. Untreated, the condition can cause catastrophic organ damage and death.

The case was settled, after prolonged litigation, for $125,000.

With the area’s media ignoring lawsuits filed against advertisers, until details of them began appearing here there was no reason to withhold specifies of alleged malpractice.

Another reason could be an attempt to avoid protracted litigation. Settle early before motions – which often include copies of documents not previously filed – are served and again, damaging details remain unavailable for posting on this page.

The first of two claims filed by Jones this year with only a notice names as defendants physician Edward Hannan, Samaritan, Hospital, Northeast Health Troy Medical Group and St. Peter’s Health Partners. “The injuries, harm, damages and loss arose  from negligence which occurred at Samaritan Hospital during Mr. Calin’s hospitalization, including February 11, 2013 during hernia surgery performed upon the plaintiff,” the brief notice attached to the summons says.

In another claim, filed by Jones in October, Nicole Matala is suing Samaritan Hospital, Northeast Health and St. Peter’s Health Partners, alleging that a delay in diagnosing and treating her appendicitis caused her to receive “serious and permanent injures, consequences, pain, suffering, harm and damages.”

Information on who is representing the defendants in these two cases was not available in court records at the time the files were obtained.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Infant injured

Lawsuit: Permanant birth
 injuries caused by doctor

By David Baker
Posted Monday Nov. 17, 2014
299 words

A couple who allege that their baby received serious permanent injuries when a doctor ignored the mother’s pleas for a cesarean section delivery and instead used forceps are suing the doctor and two medical practices.

Named in a complaint filed on January 10, 2014 in Rensselaer County are Dr. Christopher A. Bloss, OB/GYN Health Center Associates, and Community Care Physicians.

According to the complaint, Laura Daly of Troy was admitted to St. Peter’s Hospital – which is not a defendant – for an induction of labor. On that day – July 2, 2012, she signed a consent form for a cesarean section. After being in labor for the next two days, Daly "pled" for her baby to be delivered by cesarean section. That request was noted in her medical chart and an anesthetist was called.

The suit alleges that “…the defendant, Christopher A. Bloss, M.D., ignored plaintiff’s request for a cesarean section and used forceps on two separate occasions in an effort to deliver the infant plaintiff. Due to the failure to perform the cesarean section when the plaintiff requested it, the infant plaintiff sustained serious and permanent injuries including but not limited to, a depressed fracture deformity of the left parietal bone and a subdural hematoma over the right and left pareital bone.”

As a result, the complaints says, the baby “… has been permanently handicapped; has suffered impairment injuries; will lose considerable sums of money by virtue of an inability to either obtain employment or reach the level of employment she otherwise would have been able to attain; and will require life-long medical care and treatment.”

The complaint demands damages for the future medical care, rehabilitation and institutionalization of the child.

The lawsuit was filed by the Albany law firm Powers & Santola.

Representing the defendants is Carter, Conboy, Case. Blackmore, Maloney & Laird.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Rememberance Day

It was 11 years ago this week – in the early hours of  Nov. 11, 2003 – that Lisa Zenzen Baker was found in her bed at Samaritan Hospital in Troy, N.Y. with no pulse or respiration. An entry in her chart said her blood glucose reading was at just 2 mg/dl.

With frantic CPR, her heart and breathing were restarted. But the damage was done. After three weeks on life support, she died.

A few months, later I started this blog.  In 2008, it became the only place where details of lawsuits alleging medical harm filed against Capital District medical providers were published.

The publication of that information has continued right up to this week and will go on indefinitely – or until the newspapers stop shielding their advertisers and begin disseminating this public-interest information.

But with the publisher of the area’s largest newspaper sitting on the governing board of the area’s largest medical company, that seem very unlikely to happen. Nor is going to be any real effort to stop the terrible toll of deaths and injuries at the hands of people whose creed is: First, do no harm.


Below is a link to my account of Lisa’s last three weeks.  Written from notes made at the time, it first appeared here in 2008. Now it is on my related web page, Capital District Health Claims.

The link is HERE:


Friday, November 07, 2014

Leg fracture brings citations

Dropped state report lists
deficiencies at nursing home

Medical records were not  “in accordance with accepted 
professional standards and practices.” state found

By David Baker
Posted November 7, 2014
730 words

The guardian of a man who was found to have a broken bone in his leg a day after a fall in a nursing home has filed a lawsuit that initially included a copy of a state Department of Health report that cites the home for deficiencies, but which is not included or referred to in an amended complaint filed two months later.

The lawsuit was filed against St. Peter’s Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Albany on August 27 by Jeanette Whitbeck on  behalf of James F. Whitbeck. Attached to the first complaint is a copy of a ‘statement of deficiencies’ dated November 1, 2012 in which state investigators cite regulations and how they were found to have been violated.

According to the report, Whitbeck had been admitted to the home for rehabilitation therapy following a knee replacement. A week later, on the afternoon of August 21, 2012, he was found on the floor by his bed.

“Based on medical record review, and staff interviews during a complaint investigation it was determined that the facility did not ensure that incidents or accidents were thoroughly investigated ... specifically, the facility did not thoroughly investigate a resident’s fall that was initially determined to be without injury and on the following day the resident was diagnosed with a fracture of the femoral neck the required re-hospitalization and surgery,” the report says. 

Investigators wrote that after Whitbeck fell and before the fracture was discovered, an occupational therapist attempted to have him walk but noticed that he was not moving well and was wincing in pain.

“At that point the OT stopped, left the resident in bed and went to a licensed nurse standing outside the resident’s room and asked if there had been any change in the resident’s condition over the prior week. LPN told the OT the resident was ‘a little out of it’ but offered no other information.” 

According to the report, the therapist then returned to the room, got Whitbeck out of bed and started walking him to a bathroom using a walking frame. “While walking, the resident appeared to have pain and great difficulty weight bearing on his right leg,” the report says. 

The therapist placed Whitbeck in a wheelchair. A short time later, the therapist saw Whitbeck’s daughter in a hallway; the daughter told the therapist about the fall and later told her that an ex-ray had been ordered.

The report says that the director of nursing told investigators that she had been told by the rehab director that occupational and physical therapists do not have access to patients’ electronic medical records, including nursing notes.

“The (director of nursing) stated that she herself did not have access to the resident’s physical and occupational therapy notes and would to rely on one of therapists to print a note if she need to review one,” the report says.

The therapist told investigators that if she had known about Whitbeck’s fall she was not have had him walk.

“(OT) stated if she had been able to review nurses notes she might have seen that the resident had fallen the evening before and on the morning of 7/22/12, as soon as he winced in pain, she would have discontinued the residents therapy session.”

The report also addresses the home’s handling of medical records.

“Based on medical record review, and staff interviews during a complaint investigation it was determined that .. the facility did not maintain clinical records in accordance with accepted professional standards and practices that are compete, accurately documented, readily accessible and systematically organized. Specificaly, the facility did not document  assessments of and/or monitoring of a resident’s condition after a fall that was initially determine to be without injury and the following day the resident was diagnosed with a fracture of the femoral neck that required re-hospital and surgery.”

The 20-page document is referenced in the August 2014 complaint and attached to it as an exhibit. But it is not included with an amended complaint filed in October 2014 and the two paragraphs referring to it are gone.  It is otherwise unchanged. 

The complaint alleges  “.. recklessness, willful malfeasance and neglect,” and demands unspecified compensatory damages and punitive damages of $250,000 on each of three causes of action, as well as costs, disbursement and attorneys’ fees.  It was filed by the Latham law firm Hacker Murphy. Representing St. Peter’s Nursing and Rehabilitation Center is Maguire, Cardona of Menands


Doctor, hospital cited

Gall-bladder op leads to lawsuit

By David Baker
Posted Nov. 7, 2014
111 words

A man who allegedly was injured during surgery at Ellis Hospital in Schenectady has filed a lawsuit against the hospital and the doctor who performed the surgery.

James Dutcher, III of Schenectady alleges that Dr. Robert McKay was negligent when he performed a laparosopic cholecystomy – removal of the gall bladder – in January 2012, causing permanent injuries that required further surgery.

The claim was filed by the law firm Martin, Harding & Mazzotti.  The defendants are represented by Thorn & Gershon of Albany.

This case is the first from Schenectady County to appear on this page. Details of more cases filed in the county will be published here in the coming weeks.