N.Y. JUDGE DENIES PATIENT SURGEON’S MEDICAL RECORDS FOR HER MALPRACTICE SUIT

July 3, 2006

A woman who says her facelift was botched by a surgeon with physical problems may not see the doctor’s personal medical records as evidence for her lawsuit, a Manhattan judge has ruled.

Geraldine Brower says she believes Dr. George J. Beraka had an undisclosed arm or hand impairment when he operated on her on Nov. 20, 2000. Because of this impairment, she says, Beraka injured nerves that left her with a facial twitch and a lip tremor.

State Supreme Court Justice Eileen Bransten said the doctor’s medical records are private and privileged and not available to the patient because he has not offered his medical condition as a defense to the woman’s malpractice lawsuit.

Beraka’s lawyer, Lawrence D. Bloomstein, said he was “very pleased” with the decision. He said it would have “implications for all physicians in this state who find themselves defendants in malpractice cases.”

The judge did decide that Beraka must answer narrowly focused questions from Brower’s lawyer, Harry Issler, under oath in a deposition. He must disclose whether he suffered from any arm impairment.

Issler said that his patient learned about Beraka’s alleged medical problem when she called the doctor’s office days after her surgery to schedule an appointment and was told that Beraka was hospitalized for surgery on his arm or hand.

Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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