Coney Island Hospital Malpractice: Man Dies After Blood Transfusion

Staff Writer | July 26th, 2013

Brooklyn Malpractice Attorneys  An 84-year-old man died after being given the wrong blood type during what should have been a routine transfusion at Coney Island Hospital. The incident happened sometime in early June, according to a recent report in the Brooklyn Eagle. The hospital – which claims the blood was incorrectly labeled – has been ordered by the state Health Department to send blood elsewhere for transfusion testing until a full inquiry into the death has been conducted.

The man’s family may have grounds for bringing a New York medical malpractice lawsuit against the city’s Health and Hospitals Corporation, the department responsible for Coney Island Hospital, if they can show that the blood transfusion happened as a result of staff error or negligence.

To be eligible for a lawsuit the family must notify the city of their intention to sue within 90 days of the death. Any New York medical malpractice lawsuit must be filed within 15 months of the injury or death occurring.

Crucially, the statute of limitations in New York does not begin to run from the time an injury is noticed, making it one of only a handful of states not to operate under a “date of discovery” rule. For this reason, anyone seeking to file a lawsuit in the state should seek legal advice as soon as they become aware of a potential medical negligence claim.

Statute of Limitations vs. Statute of Repose

A distinction must be drawn between the commonly used expression “statute of limitations” and “statute of repose.” The latter is defined by the expiration of a statutory period, after which it becomes impossible to file a lawsuit – even if the injury occurs after that time. For instance, a faulty design ascribed to a piece of hospital equipment might carry a twenty year statute of repose, prohibiting lawsuits from being filed more than twenty years after the date of manufacture – even if the accident caused by the equipment happened only a year before an individual took legal action.

Tolling of the Statute of Limitations

In some cases it is possible to circumvent the harsh implications of a statute of limitations by arguing in court that the statute has been “tolled.” This means that something has prevented the statute for running for a period of time. Common reasons for this are:

  • The victim of the injury was a minor at the time the incident occurred
  • The victim was not considered mentally competent at the time of injury
  • The defendant was bankrupt, providing an “automatic stay” until the bankruptcy is resolved

Under New York law, a minor has three years from the date of their eighteenth birthday to commence litigation. However, the statute of limitations cannot be extended beyond ten years from the date of the act of negligence or error that caused the injury.

How is “medical negligence” defined?

In order to meet the legal definition of medical malpractice, healthcare staff must be shown to be ill-qualified, negligent or incompetent. Patient dissatisfaction at a course of treatment is not sufficient, and does not imply negligence. If a patient dies of a pre-existing condition, a physician’s actions must be shown to be “more likely than not” a factor in the death.

According to the report in the Brooklyn Eagle, New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is looking to ease the time-limit burden placed on those seeking a New York medical malpractice lawsuit. Silver’s spokesperson Michael Whyland said he supports a bill that would resemble other states’ “date of discovery” rule: “The speaker thinks the issue has merit and will review it with the members of the Democratic conference.”

Brooklyn malpractice attorneys

If you believe you have been the victim of negligence, an attorney can help you move forward with the legal process by establishing whether the injury was caused by the action or inaction of medical staff, or whether the injury would have occurred regardless of those actions.

To find out more about filing a New York medical malpractice lawsuit, contact NYC malpractice attorneys at The Sanders Firm. They can advise you of the benefits of filing a lawsuit against healthcare professionals. For more information, call 1-800 FAIR PLAY for a free case evaluation.


  1. National Institutes of Health, Medical negligence: Coverage of the profession, duties, ethics, case law, and enlightened defense - A legal perspective, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2779963/

  2. Brooklyn Eagle, Patient dies at Coney Island Hospital from botched blood transfusion, http://www.brooklyneagle.com/articles/patient-dies-coney-island-hospital-botched-blood-transfusion-2013-07-15-160000