Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Hinlicky v. Dreyfuss case brief

Hinlicky v. Dreyfuss case brief summary
848 N.E.2d 1285 (2006)

Plaintiff administrator filed a medical malpractice action against defendants, an internist, a surgeon, and the anesthesiologists. The trial court admitted an algorithm into evidence and the appellate division (New York) affirmed. The administrator appealed.


The decedent survived endarterectomy surgery, but died 25 days later, after suffering a heart attack. A predominate issue at trial was whether defendants were negligent in not obtaining a preoperative cardiac evaluation of the decedent to ensure that the decedent's heart could tolerate the endarterectomy surgery. During cross-examination, an anesthesiologist stated that a flow chart or algorithm was used in deciding to allow surgery without the cardiac evaluation.


  • On appeal, the administrator argued that the trial court erred in exercising its discretion to admit the algorithm into evidence. 
  • The court of appeals concluded that the algorithm was correctly admitted during the anesthesiologist's testimony as demonstrative evidence of the steps the anesthesiologist followed in clearing the decedent for surgery. 
  • The algorithm was admitted as a demonstrative aid for the jury in understanding the process that anesthesiologist followed, had the administrator been concerned that the purpose for admitting the algorithm was changing from demonstrative to substantive evidence, the administrator could and should have said so.

The judgment of the appellate division was affirmed.

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