Jury Finds Against Doctor In Delayed Diagnosis Of Cancer Medical Malpractice Matter

 By: J. Hernandez
Statistically, males of African-American descent are at higher risk of getting prostate cancer younger than other males. As such, doctors generally advocate that African-American males should be told about screening tests available for prostate cancer earlier (the suggested age is 45) in order to increase the likelihood that if they do develop cancer it might be diagnosed at an early stage while it is still curable. By starting earlier with African-American men screening ought to lead to the detection of the cancer at an earlier and possibly curable stage. When doctors fail to act in accordance with the guidelines for cancer screening andtheir patient is subsequently diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer that physician might be liable for medical malpractice.

But beyond the guidelines, it may additionally be malpractice if a patient specifically ask for screening for a particular cancer and the physician fails to do so. Look at the reported case of a forty one year-old African-American male who had been involved in an ad campaign meant to raise awareness about the risk of prostate cancer in middle-aged males of African-American descent requested that his physician screen him for the cancer.

The physician completed a digital examination and uncovered no abnormalities. The physician ordered blood tests for the patient but did not get a PSA test. The physician did not inform the patient that no PSA test had been ordered. The patient was seen again by the same physician two years later at which point the physician failed to perform a physical examination of the prostate and just as before did not order a PSA test.

By performing a physical examination of the prostate and ordering blood tests the doctor brought about a scenario in which the patient believed that he had been correctly screened for prostate cancer and that the results had came back normal indicating nothing suspicious for cancer. In situations like these, most patients would probably believe that a PSA test was actually ordered along with the rest of the blood tests which has bee ordered on the second visit. In any event, however, he clearly was justified in thinking he had gone through a full screening in the earlier visit.

Later that year the patient saw another doctor in the same practice. This time the physician did not just do a digital examination but also ordered a PSA test. The patient was diagnosed with prostate cancer with bone metastasis. Given that the individual was now approaching forty-five and under the guidelines the physician would in general only at this time have at a minimum had a conversation about screening. In this instance, though, the man had specifically asked to be screened earlier and the actions of the doctor had led him to expect he had been.

The patient filed a lawsuit against the doctor who had failed to get the PSA testing. The law firm that represented the patient published that it took the case to trail where a jury awarded the plaintiff $2,750,000. The defendants appealed. As the appeal was pending the parties reached a settlement for an undisclosed amount that was less than the original verdict. The Appeals Court subsequently denied the appeal.
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