January 3, 2007
Delta Med. Supplies, Inc. v NY Cent. Mut. Ins. Co. (2007 NY Slip Op 50241(U))
Reported in New York Official Reports at Delta Med. Supplies, Inc. v NY Cent. Mut. Ins. Co. (2007 NY Slip Op 50241(U))
|Delta Med. Supplies, Inc. v NY Cent. Mut. Ins. Co.
|2007 NY Slip Op 50241(U) [14 Misc 3d 1231(A)]
|Decided on January 3, 2007
|Civil Court Of The City Of New York, Kings County
|Published by New York State Law Reporting Bureau pursuant to Judiciary Law § 431.
|This opinion is uncorrected and will not be published in the printed Official Reports.
Civil Court of the City of New York, Kings County
Delta Medical Supplies, Inc. a/a/o Edner Elie, Plaintiff,
NY Central Mutual Insurance Co., Defendant,
Sylvia G. Ash, J.
Plaintiff brought this action seeking recovery of first party no-fault benefits for medical services rendered to its assignor in connection with injuries sustained as a result of an automobile accident. Plaintiff is a health care provider and defendant was the no-fault insurance carrier at the time the automobile accident occurred. The amount at issue is $2,859.46. A trial on the matter was conducted by this Court on November 16, 2006. Based on the testimony and evidence adduced at trial, this Court makes the following findings of fact and conclusions of law.
The parties stipulated to the Plaintiff’s prima facie case. The only issue presented to the Court is whether or not the Defendant established the defense of lack of medical necessity. The Plaintiff presented no witnesses.
To sustain its burden of proof, the Defendant called Dr. Antoinette Perrie, D.C., L.Ac. as its chief and only witness. The parties stipulated that Dr. Perrie may testify as an expert in the field of chiropractic medicine. Dr. Perrie’s peer review report was also stipulated into evidence.
It is well settled that a health care provider’s proof of a properly completed claim form is sufficient to establish a prima facie case for recovery, thereby shifting the burden to the Defendant to show that it issued a timely denial within thirty days and/or a request for verification within ten days of receiving the claim form, (A.B. Med. Servs. PLLC v. Lumbermens Mutual Casualty Co., 4 Misc 3d 86 [App Term, 2d and 11th Jud Dists 2004]; Amaze Med. Supply Inc. V. Eagle Insurance Co., 784 NYS2d 918; Insurance Law §5106; NYCRR §65.15). It is equally well settled that where the Defendant submits a timely denial indicating the lack of medical necessity as its basis, and where said denial is supported by sufficiently detailed peer review, the burden is then shifted to the Plaintiff to establish that there was in fact a medical necessity to provide the services rendered (Choicenet Chiropractic v. Travelers Prop. Cas. Corp. (2003 NY Slip Op 50697[U], Dec. Jan. 23, 2003; NYLJ March 7, 2003 [App.Term, 2d & 11th Jud Dists.). [*2]
In the instant case, the medical supplies at issue are:
– Cervical Philadelphia Collar.
– LSO Lumbar-Sacral-Orthosis.
– Lumbar Cushion.
– Bed Board.
– Egg Create Mattress.
– Ems Unit.
– EMS Accessory Kit.
– Infra-Red Heating Lamp.
Defendant’s medical expert, Dr. Perrie, testified that after a review of Plaintiff’s MRI reports, medical supplies prescriptions and bills, and Plaintiff’s medical records (see pages 2 and 3 of Dr. Perrie’s peer review report dated August 14, 2004), she determined that the medical supplies prescribed to Plaintiff were not medically necessary at the time they were prescribed. Dr. Perrie testified that in her 25 years of medical practice, she had never prescribed any of the aforementioned medical supplies to a patient with Plaintiff’s complaint. Dr. Perrie further testified that given the age of the Plaintiff at the time of the accident, 75 years old, she would not have prescribed the medical supplies at issue nor would she have sent the Plaintiff to a chiropractor, she would have sent him to an orthopedic specialist instead. Dr. Perrie also questioned the timing of the prescription of the medical supplies which were prescribed to Plaintiff 2 days after the accident. Dr. Perrie stated that she would have recommended bed rest and a course of treatment for Plaintiff instead of prescribing the medical supplies at issue.
On cross examination, Dr. Perrie testified that she examined Plaintiff on August 11, 2004 and had a diagnosis of Plaintiff however, she did not include her findings in her peer review report dated August 14, 2004, because she did not remember Plaintiff or whether she had examined him. Dr. Perrie stated that the purpose of her August 11, 2004 examination of Plaintiff was to determine whether he needed further treatment. Upon further questioning, Dr. Perrie testified that she did not know whether the medical supplies prescribed were necessary or effective because she never used said supplies in her practice. The Court questions how Dr. Perrie could determine that the medical supplies in questioned were not medically necessary or effective if she had never prescribed the usage of said supplies in her 25 years of practice. Clearly Dr. Perrie has no first hand knowledge of the usefulness or effectiveness of these supplies as they relate to the injuries complained of by Plaintiff. The Court also questions Dr. Perrie’s failure to include her diagnosis of her examination of Plaintiff in her peer review report, even though said report was prepared two days after she examined the Plaintiff. The fact that Dr. Perrie stated that she did not remember the Plaintiff or remember whether she had examined him is noteworthy. [*3]
At trial, the defense that a claim was not medically necessary must be supported by sufficient factual evidence or proof and cannot simply be conclusory. Therefore, at trial, if the Defendant, as in the case at bar, provides an insufficient factual basis or medical rational for its peer review report, the Court will afford the peer review report minimal weight, and the Defendant may fail to sustain its burden of proof as was the case herein. Jacob Nir, M.D. v. Allstate Insurance Company, 7 Misc 3d 544 [NY city Civ. Ct. 2005]; A.B. Medical Services., PLLC v. New York Central Mutual Fire Ins. Co., 7 Misc 3d 1018(A) [NY City Civ. Ct. 2005].
In the case at bar, there was no testimony establishing that the treating physician’s decision to order the medical supplies was a deviation from the established standards of medical practice and procedure as they relate to the injuries complained of. Although Dr. Perrie testified that she would not have prescribed the medical supplies at issue and that she would have ordered a different course of treatment for the Plaintiff, Dr. Perrie did not submit any factual evidence or proof that her proposed course of treatment was the established standard of medical practice and procedure as related to the injuries complained of by the Plaintiff. In fact, Dr. Perrie testified that in the 25 years of her practice she had never prescribe any of the medical supplies at issue and she could not state whether said medical supplies were necessary or effective because she had never prescribed them for usage to her patients. In Ultimate Med. Supplies v. Lancer Ins. Co., 7 Misc 3d 1002[A] [Civ.Ct., Kings. Co. 2004], Defendant’s medical Doctor testified that based on her experience, none of the medical equipment prescribed were necessary. The Court found it clear that the Doctor admitted to never having prescribed any of the subject medical equipment, thus the Court held that the Doctor’s opinion was biased against the prescribing Doctor so as to make the peer review a nullity and not credible.
A no-fault insurer defending a denial of first party benefits on the ground that the billed for services or equipment/supplies were not medically necessary must show that the services or supplies/equipment provided were inconsistent with generally accepted medical/professional practices. The opinion of the insurer’s expert, standing alone, is insufficient to carry the insurer’s burden of proving that the services or supplies/equipment were not medically necessary. Expo Medical Supplies, Inc. v. Clarendon Insurance Company, 12 Misc 3d 1154(A), 819 NYS2d 209, 2006 WL 1341418; City Wide Social Work & Psychological Servs. v. Travelers Indem. Co., 3 Misc 3d 608 [Civ.Ct., Kings Co., 2004]; Ultimate Med Supplies v. Lancer Ins. Co., Supra.
Based on the above facts, the Court finds that Defendant failed to meet its burden of establishing lack of medical necessity. Hence, the burden never shifted back to the Plaintiff to establish that the prescribed supplies were in conformity with established medical practices and procedures.
Accordingly, judgment shall be entered in favor of the Plaintiff in the amount of
$2,859.46, plus statutory interest, costs, and attorneys fees.
This constitutes the decision and order of this Court.
[*4]DATED: January 3, 2007
SYLVIA G. ASH, J.C.C.