‘Alarming’ number of lawsuits at Brownsville’s Brookdale University Hospital
Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center is the target of more than 100 open lawsuits by patients who claim they — or their dead relatives — were harmed instead of healed, Brooklyn Supreme Court records show.
At least a dozen cases allege patients died due to malpractice or negligence at the cash-strapped Brownsville hospital — including a mugging victim with traumatic brain injuries and two patients whose severe pressure ulcers led to fatal infections.
“The number of suits against Brookdale is alarming,” said state Assemblyman Nick Perry (D-East Flatbush), who called it “a very strong indication that something is definitely wrong with how the hospital is run.”
State Assemblyman Karim Camara (D-East Flatbush) said the heavy load of lawsuits is “further evidence there needs to be a change at the highest levels of management.”
The Rockaway Parkway facility, one of five financially-troubled Brooklyn hospitals recommended for mergers by a state panel, is the most burdened of the group with lawsuits.
Accusations of sloppy care range from letting a diabetic’s puncture wound get so infected that his toes had to be amputated to giving penicillin to a patient wearing a bracelet showing she was allergic to it. A doctor’s alleged negligence during childbirth is blamed for a baby’s permanent brain and nervous system injuries.
“It sounds like there’s an epidemic of medical malpractice at this hospital,” said Joanne Doroshow, executive director of the Center for Justice and Democracy at New York Law School, who called the volume of suits “egregious.”
For each case filed, it’s likely 100 other patients felt they got shoddy care but didn’t sue, said Doroshow.
“When a hospital is so unsafe, it costs the hospital a tremendous amount of money,” she said. “There are proven ways to clean up your act, patient safety improvements that are well-known. It is pure negligence not to do them.”
Costs are a crucial issue at Brookdale, which had $42 million in operating losses in 2010, a report by the state panel said. Other
woes include the conviction last year of former CEO David Rosen for conspiracy to bribe three Brooklyn and Queens lawmakers.
A Brookdale spokesman defended hospital personnel’s conduct but did not discuss specifics.
“It is against our policy to comment on any pending litigation issues,” spokesman Ole Pedersen said. “We are confident in the quality of care provided to the residents of Brooklyn, by our dedicated clinical and support staff.”
There are more open lawsuits against Brookdale than at bigger Brooklyn hospitals. Maimonides Medical Center, with around 700 beds in use, has about 80 open suits.
New York Methodist Hospital, with about 600 beds in use, is faced with some 55 cases.
Brookdale has around 330 to 360 beds in use, sources said.
Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center, Interfaith Medical Center, Brooklyn Hospital Center and Wyckoff Heights Medical Center have between 25 and 65 suits each. They range in size from about 280 to 310 beds in use.
“In its own peer group of troubled Brooklyn hospitals,” said Arthur Levin, director of the Center for Medical Consumers, a patient advocacy group, “Brookdale is the standout.”