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Torts Keyed to Prosser
James v. Wormuth
Citation:21 N.Y.3d 540, 997 N.E.2d 133, 974 N.Y.S.2d 308
Dr. Wormuth performed a lung biopsy on James. A guide wire was used in the operation to locate the area of James’ lung to be biopsied. The guide wire became dislodged during the surgery. Dr. Wormuth conducted a 20-minute manual search for the wire but was unable to find it. He decided that it was best to leave the wire inside James. After the surgery, Dr. Wormuth informed James that he left the wire inside her and why he had done so. Weeks later, James returned complaining of postoperative pain that she attributed to the presence of the wire. She sued Dr. Wormuth for medical malpractice. During trial, James asserted that the doctrine of res ipsa loquitor applied since the wire was a foreign object that only could have been left inside her as a result of Dr. Wormuth’s negligence. Dr. Wormuth testified that it was his professional judgment that it was safer to leave the guide wire inside James. He stated that it would have been too risky to extend the period under which James was anesthetized and to make a larger incision to remove the wire. The trial court directed a verdict for defendant, which was affirmed by the appellate division. James appealed to the Court of Appeals of New York.
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