William Lee was 41 years old when his wife found him, collapsed and convulsing, on the bathroom floor. Anne Lee immediately called 911 and an ambulance took him to Westchester County Medical Center-- a nationally certified stroke center. Staff suspected a stroke so Lee had a CT Scan to check for a clot, but there was no board certified radiologist on-site. Instead, on-call residents failed to diagnose a stroke and determined there was no clot after they examined the images. Three hours later, a radiologist arrived and determined that Lee suffered a basilar artery occlusion. Surgery removed the clot but it was too late: According to court documents, Lee already had serious brain damage that was further exacerbated by a delayed diagnosis of antiphospholipid syndrome – an autoimmune disorder that causes blood clots.
Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
in January 2020, attorneys on behalf of William and Anna Lee filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against Westchester Medical Center. During the trial, the attorneys emphasized “time is brain” – which is the importance of timely diagnosing and treating a stroke and that the hospital’s failure to rapidly act resulted in Lee’s injuries. As well, plaintiffs’ attorneys called upon a vascular neurology expert to help determine the standard of care for the diagnosis and management of ischemic stroke in this case. A verdict was reached after four weeks and a day-long deliberation. The $120 million verdict was reached by awarding:
- William Lee $9.375 million in damages for past pain and suffering and $41,625 million for future pain and suffering.
- Anna Lee $9.375 million for past loss and $41,625 million for future loss because of her husband's injuries.
- Anna Lee $550,000 for the medical and other supplies and services needed because of her husband's condition.
“Mr. Lee's injuries have decimated portions of his brain that control judgment and short-term memory, rendering him unable to live independently and to provide for his wife and children. The jury's verdict included awards for Mr. Lee's future medical needs, his pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life, as well as awards for his wife's loss of his services and society. The verdict represents the largest award ever in a medical malpractice case in Westchester County.”
William Lee now resides in a California memory care facility. Because he suffers memory issues and cannot care for himself, William needs lifelong, around-the-clock care. He will never be able to provide for his wife and children. The case was tried before Judge Paul Marx in state Supreme Court in Westchester County.
Hospital Safety Grades
In the fall of 2023 Westchester Medical Center received a Grade D from Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grades (formerly known as Hospital Safety Scores). Leapfrog, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit, assigns grades to nearly 3,000 general acute-care hospitals across the nation twice annually. The Safety Grade is the gold standard measure of patient safety. A consumer watchdog group reported that New York hospitals received mixed safety grades as staffing shortages contributed to the state's health care system, ranking among the least safe nationally. Only 16 hospitals statewide, or about 11%, received the highest A safety grade while 28 hospitals, including Westchester, received the second-lowest D grade. Two hospitals received an F.