$2.5 Million Settlement After Doctors Delay Diagnosis Of Patient's Prostate Cancer
When multiple physicians become involved in the treatment of a patient can be veryimportant for them to relay critical diagnostic and recommended follow-up and treatment recommendation to the patient and to the other physicians. The importance of such communication is not negated simply because the patient does no return to one of the physician. A failure to do so may lead to an undiagnosed or untreated disease or condition. And it may constitute medical malpractice.
Consider the following reported lawsuit: a male patient went to his family doctor complaining of urinary problems. He was fifty-six at the time. The family doctor assumed that the problems were not caused by cancer. As such, the family doctor did not order any diagnostic testing, such as a biopsy and did not refer the patient to a urologist. The patient, on his own, went to a urologist ten months later. The urologist conducted a physical examination of the prostate and ordered a PSA blood test. The patient then discovered that his insurance carrier did not have the urologist in its list of approved physicians and he went to different urologist who was approved.
The approved urologist also conducted a physical examination of the prostate but did not find any abnormalities and so concluded that the patient did not have cancer. The approved urologist did not order a PSA blood test. The one ordered by the first urologist came back and that urologist recommended a biopsy. Unfortunately, that recommended did not get communicated to the family doctor or the urologist approved by the insurance company.
It took another 2 years before the patient's prostate cancer was finally diagnosed. By that time, the cancer had spread outside the prostate and was now advanced. Had the cancer been caught when the patient first complained of urinary problems or when he saw the first urologist, it would have still been contained in the prostate and, with treatment, the patient would have had approximately 97 percent chance of surviving the cancer. Since the cancer was already advanced at the time of diagnosis, however, the patient was not expected to survive more than five years. The law firm that represented the patient reported that the resulting medical malpractice lawsuit settled for $2,500,000.
In addition, the family doctor did not conduct a physical examination of the prostate to determine if there was anything about the gland that would indicate the presence of cancer. And while the urologist approved by the insurance company did a physical examination, that urologist failed to detect anything. Yet, neither the family doctor nor the approved urologist ordered a PSA blood test. The one physician who did order a PSA blood test recommended a biopsy. This appears to have been the critical test that could have raised the suspicion of cancer and, with a biopsy, resulted in an early stage diagnosis. And the one physician who had access to its result did not communicate it to the patient or the other physicians.
This case thus illustrates two main types of failures. There was the failure on the part of the family doctor and the insurance approved urologist not following the proper screening guidelines. And there was the failure of communication with the patient and among the different physicians. Although it impossible to know whether the family doctor or the second urologist would have followed up on results of the PSA test from the first urologist or on that urologist's suspicion and recommendation they, and the patient, would at least have had information and perspective they were missing.
When physicians succumb to these types of failures and they in turn lead to a delayed diagnosis of a patient's cancer so that a cure is no longer possible then, as in the case above, the physicians may be liable for medical malpractice.
by: Joseph HernandezAbout the Author:Joseph Hernandez is an Attorney focused on catastrophic injury and medical malpractice cases. To learn more about advanced prostate cancer cases visit his website at http://www.prostatecancerlaw.com