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Kambat v. St. Francis Hosp.

Citation. 678 N.E.2d 456 (N.Y. 1997)
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Brief Fact Summary.

A woman died of infection after a medical pad was left in her abdomen after a hysterectomy.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

Some factual circumstances are such that a layperson could cast a judgement over it, despite it being an otherwise specialized question of fact.


A woman had a hysterectomy performed in a hospital.  Several weeks later she went back in complaining of severe abdomen pain, and it was discovered she had an 18 inch by 18 inch medical pad in her abdomen.  It was removed, and found to be of the same type as the ones used in her surgery.


Was a layperson able to judge the likelihood of negligence in this medical malpractice case?


Yes, there are some instances where it is so obvious that negligence of some degree must have been involved that a layperson can be sufficiently situated to make a determination.


The court found that there were some factual circumstances that were so clearly within the preview of a layperson that they need no special qualification to cast judgement.  Here, the court notes that a sponge being left in a patient is literally a textbook definition of negligence, and that any layperson was virtually guaranteed to recognize it as such.

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