The Second Department determined the medical malpractice (2 1/2 year) rather than the negligence (3 year) statute of limitations applied to this action stemming from the alleged failure to restrain a patient (plaintiff’s decedent) with dementia. The patient was injured when she fell. The court held the action was governed by the medical malpractice limitations period and was therefore untimely:
“The distinction between ordinary negligence and malpractice turns on whether the acts or omissions complained of involve a matter of medical science or art requiring special skills not ordinarily possessed by lay persons or whether the conduct complained of can instead be assessed on the basis of the common everyday experience of the trier of the facts” … . Generally, a claim will be deemed to sound in medical malpractice “when the challenged conduct constitutes medical treatment or bears a substantial relationship to the rendition of medical treatment by a licensed physician'” … . Thus, when the complaint challenges a medical facility’s performance of functions that are “an integral part of the process of rendering medical treatment” and diagnosis to a patient, such as taking a medical history and determining the need for restraints, the action sounds in medical malpractice… .
… The defendants’ evidence showed that on April 12, 2009, the plaintiff’s decedent, Ruby Bell (hereinafter the decedent), was admitted to New Island Hospital with a history of dementia, and placed on “Fall Prevention Protocol.” After the decedent was found standing at her bedside trying to remove her foley catheter, a physician ordered that she be restrained with a vest and wrist restraints. On the morning of April 18, 2009, the decedent was discovered sitting on the floor next to her bed. The bed’s side rails were up and the decedent was not aware of how she came to be on the floor. She had apparently fallen while trying to climb out of her bed. Thereafter, the decedent was diagnosed with a distal radius fracture of the right forearm. The plaintiff alleged that this incident arose out of the failure of the defendants’ staff to follow the physician’s order to restrain her … .
In opposition to the defendants’ prima facie showing of entitlement to judgment as a matter of law, the plaintiff failed to raise a triable issue of fact. Contrary to the plaintiff’s contentions, the allegations at issue essentially challenged the defendants’ assessment of the decedent’s supervisory and treatment needs … . Bell v WSNCHS N., Inc., 2017 NY Slip Op 05937, 2nd Dept 8-2-17
NEGLIGENCE (MEDICAL MALPRACTICE, CIVIL PROCEDURE, INJURIES STEMMING FROM FAILURE TO RESTRAIN A PATIENT WITH DEMENTIA FALL UNDER THE MEDICAL MALPRACTICE, NOT NEGLIGENCE, STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS, PLAINTIFF’S ACTION IS TIME-BARRED (SECOND DEPT))/MEDICAL MALPRACTICE (CIVIL PROCEDURE, INJURIES STEMMING FROM FAILURE TO RESTRAIN A PATIENT WITH DEMENTIA FALL UNDER THE MEDICAL MALPRACTICE, NOT NEGLIGENCE, STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS, PLAINTIFF’S ACTION IS TIME-BARRED (SECOND DEPT))/CIVIL PROCEDURE (MEDICAL MALPRACTICE, INJURIES STEMMING FROM FAILURE TO RESTRAIN A PATIENT WITH DEMENTIA FALL UNDER THE MEDICAL MALPRACTICE, NOT NEGLIGENCE, STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS, PLAINTIFF’S ACTION IS TIME-BARRED (SECOND DEPT))