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A Rochester appellate panel has overturned a Court of Claims ruling that awarded $500,000 in damages to a physician who contracted tuberculosis as a result of an autopsy she conducted on a prison inmate during her first month of residency. The Appellate Division, Fourth Department, said Dr. Natasha Muckova has no private right of action against the state for its failure to comply with regulations and document the inmate’s infection (Muckova v. State, 12-01058). Muckova was a resident in anatomical and clinical pathology at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester in 1995 when she was assigned to perform the autopsy. However, records showing that the inmate had an active, extremely contagious form of mycobacterium tuberculosis had not accompanied the body and while Muckova took standard precautionary measures, the procedure occurred in an ordinary autopsy room rather than a special one used for high-risk cases.

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