A 77-year-old man saw his gastroenterologist on the day after having a colonoscopy. He reported to his doctor that he had been experiencing nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain since the test was performed. The gastroenterologist sent him to the Emergency Room of the local hospital for an abdominal CT Scan which was expected to identify the cause of his symptoms. The man (plaintiff) followed these instructions.
The scan was interpreted and reported by a radiologist who had been in practice for only two weeks (defendant) since completion of his training. The radiologist found an abnormality in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen but did not report the location of the cecum and appendix. Despite some concern that the plaintiff might have appendicitis the radiologist failed to include this in his report or to communicate his concern to the plaintiff’s doctors by telephone.
When the radiologist’s report was received without indication of an emergency requiring surgery, the plaintiff was sent home. The failure of the radiologist to report suspected appendicitis was a failure to follow standards of care, and was medical malpractice.
Two days after this visit to the emergency room, plaintiff returned to the same emergency room and was given another CT Scan of the same area. The second CT Scan was interpreted and reported by a different, more experienced, radiologist as showing a ruptured appendix. Within a day of this second report (either before or after), the first radiologist was confronted about missing the appendicitis on the first scan by the senior partner in the radiology practice.
The plaintiff’s ruptured appendix caused several other problems:
- Intra-abdominal sepsis, which led to
- Respiratory failure requiring a ventilator,
- Pulmonary emboli,
- Deep vein thromboses,
- Ischemic kidney insult, and
- Permanent aphasia.
The defendant’s insurance company refused to discuss a settlement prior to a trial.
During the trial, plaintiff’s attorneys explained the sequence of events. Defense experts explained that the two-day delay in treating the plaintiff due to the defendant’s failure to report fully and correctly on the first CT scan standards of care were violated. Further, they explained that this delay, that allowed the appendix to rupture was also the cause of plaintiff’s ensuing additional medical problems.
Defense attorneys argued that the additional problems were not caused by the failure to report appendicitis. Instead, they argued that the cause of the issues was due to plaintiff’s prior medical history.
In this case the defendant’s failure to report appendicitis caused a number of additional complications. After three hours of deliberation the jury returned a unanimous verdict for the plaintiff for $1,500,000.
Medical malpractice, whether due to negligence or error, harms people every day. Failure to follow standards of care is often the underlying cause of harm. If you or a loved one is harmed due to the negligence, error or failure to follow standards of care, you may be entitled to recover a financial verdict or settlement for your hurts and harms. If you suspect medical malpractice, call experienced and trusted attorney Bettina C. Altizer. She and her team at Altizer Law, P.C., have been representing those harmed by medical malpractice and obtaining for them the maximum appropriate settlements and verdicts for more than 25 years.