Lawsuit Contends Urologist, Radiologist Failed to Follow-Up With Patient Care
The family of a man who died as a result of a lack of follow-up on a chest x-ray has filed a lawsuit against the urologist who took the x-ray and the radiologist who interpreted it. The family says the doctors failed to timely diagnose a cancer that was allowed to metastasize. The patient died later when the cancer became unmanageable.
According to the lawsuit, the radiologist sent the report to the patient’s primary care physician but not to the urologist. The x-ray showed a lesion that had not appeared on an earlier x-ray. The man later died of lung cancer prompting the family to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the doctors.
The defendants claim that there was no breach in the prevailing standard of care for their specialties despite the fact that the lab results were not sent to the doctor who ordered them.
Neither Doctor Ever Followed Up
The report essentially slipped through the cracks. Procedure requires that the lab work be sent to both the primary care physician and the doctor who ordered the tests. The radiologist erred in forgetting to send the lab results to the urologist and the urologist erred when he failed to follow up with the radiologist.
The complexity of a case like this revolves around whether or not the patient would have survived if the defendants had followed up with the lab results. They would have certainly caught the cancer sooner and this would have allowed for a better prognosis. The cancer was given enough time to advance making it untreatable and sealing the fate of their patient. But can you file a lawsuit based on a what-if?
The Radiologist’s Defense
The radiologist claims that he was under no obligation to circulate the report to the doctor who ordered the test. The defendant also produced evidence that even had the lab results been given to the urologist, the patient would not have survived the cancer.
The defense proved effective. In this case, the plaintiffs needed to prove that the patient’s death was the direct or proximate cause of the defendant’s medical negligence. With the question of whether or not the lab tests would have made a difference formally undecidable, the plaintiff was unable to prove that the defendant violated the prevailing standard of care for their profession.
On the other hand, both doctors were arguably negligent for failing to communicate properly with one another. The radiologist should have delivered the results to the doctor who had ordered the test and the urologist should have followed up with someone to at least be kept apprised of the situation.
However, showing that a doctor was negligent is only one part of the equation. The plaintiffs must link the medical negligence to verifiable injuries or death. If the patient’s death was inevitable, then there’s no medical malpractice case even if the doctor was guilty of some poor organization.
Talk to a Tampa Medical Malpractice Attorney Today
If you’ve been injured by a medical doctor, the Tampa medical malpractice attorneys at Palmer | Lopez can evaluate the merits of your case and file a lawsuit against the at-fault party. Talk to us today to set up a free consultation.