Medical Malpractice/Missed diagnosis

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QUESTION: Hello,

My name is Jamie and I am a vibrant healthy 45 year old female with a thriving career.  I woke up in December of 2012 and had a pain in my neck.  I went to my Chiropractor who sent me for an MRI and spots showed up on my thyroid.  The radiologist recommended I follow up in 6 months.  I followed up immediately,I soon had a CT with Dye that showed some calcifications in my neck (supraclavicular) so I went for a fine needle biopsy.  Results came back negative?  I pushed on and went to see my trusted physician who is an ENT, he recommended I take out a nodule to see what is going on.  The nodule came back as "highly suspected of metastatic papillary thyroid cancer" but still not confirmed all the while my Thyroid showed no problems and was functioning fine.  My surgeon recommended I go get a full body pet scan.  The pet scan identified the problem below my collar bone as did the others but stated my Thyroid was fine.  My physician said things weren't adding up and I should take my perfectly fine thyroid out to be safe.  hesitantly I just recently did and the pathology came back as stage 4 cancer!  After all the tests I did no one confirmed it and I wasted 4 months trying to prove it to get it out of my body.  Is there any recourse with this?  My recovery is going to be very difficult now if at all and I have a family!!?  I appreciate your efforts and feedback and thank you.

ANSWER: Jamie: Scary story and sorry you have had to live it.  Your story seems to indicate to me that everybody did everything right, including yourself. Chirpractor was ahead of the chiropractice game to send you for MRI. Although the radiologist maybe should not have been so unconcerned as he was you did the right thing with the CT. Biopsy only samples a small part of the organ so it is possible and not malpractice to fail to find it on biopsy. ENT was right to look deeper. They then went to the next level with the PET and your doc was correct again to do the thryroidectomy.  Sounds to me like you had some really concerned and expert physicians handling the case.  I could easily see that you go on your merry way, maybe have another MRI a year later, and by then, the situation would probably me different, and not for the better. But even in that scenario, maybe not be malpractice.  The STANDARD OF CARE is the standard that must be met to avoid malpractice, but it is a low standard. If the basic tests for the situation come back negative, the docs are not required to be heroic as your doctors seemed to have been.  Anyhow, even if we make a presumption that the standard of care required that the cancer should have been found say 3 months before, did the 3 month delay make a very clear, provable and critical difference to the ultimate outcome of the case?  Probably not. Also consider this: if there was any negligence it would have been by the radiologist, correct? He should have recommended further testing and treatment immediately, maybe. Only another radiologist could say whether your radiologist was negligent. But again, even if he was, you on your own went for further care. You didn't wait the 6 months. So if the radiologist committed malpractice, you were not damaged by it, only because you were smart to do what you did.  So, by that analysis, you don't have any legal recourse.  You really need to concentrate on beating the disease and not wasting energy thinking about legal recourse.  I feel quite confidant that my analysis, based  on facts presented, is correct.  Best of luck.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you Glenn!  So missing my cancer in my thyroid in my pet scan is not negligence?  What if he missed cancer in the rest of my body?  My ENT/Surgeon had to nearly hog tie me to convince me to take my thyroid out because even my PET scan said my thyroid was fine? It took months for my insurance to approve a PET Scan and once I did it..it still didnt show my Thyroid was FULL of cancer on both sides.

Answer
You apparently don't understand the concept of "negligence".  It means carelessness, "should have done something but didn't" or "did something that should not have been done".  If all those sophistiicated tests didn't identify the cancer then who is to blame for being careless or providing medical care on a substandard basis?  Medical science isn't perfect, diagnosing, recognizing or even finding medical problems can't be 100%. Things are missed or can't be found and that isn't negligence. You don't have a right to expect perfection from what doctors do.  But read my first answer again.  EVEN IF THE RADIOLOGIST WAS NEGLIGENT AND SHOULD HAVE FOUND THE CANCER THAT SIMPLY COULDN'T BE FOUND, YOU WOULD STILL WOULD NEED EVIDENCE THAT THE BRIEF DELAY IN GETTING THE TREATMENT MADE A SUBSTANTIAL DIFFERENCE, FOR THE WORSE, IN THE OUTCOME OF YOUR CASE.  I am curious who you would want to sue anyhow.  The radiologist who read the scans that did not show cancer or are you saying he should have seen the cancer?  If the latter (he should have seen it), then that by definition would be negligence but at the end of the day, did that negligence make a difference in where you are today? All the other doctors you dealt with, by the story you tell, seem to have all provided the best possible care.  Forget about the legal issues. Dead end.  Just concentrate on beating the disease. I wish you the best in that regard.

Medical Malpractice

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Glenn A. Dorfman

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Thirty-four years experience in personal injury, medical malpractice and medical product liability law. Qualified to answer all questions regarding injuries and the law, except for worker`s compensation. Also wide experience in medical product defect cases ie current litigation regarding the Johnson&Johnson (DePuy)defective hip implant cases and Mirena IUD issues

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Thirty-four years experience handling cases involving auto accidents, trips and fall, fires, dog bite,medical malpractice and defective medical product cases with particular emphasis in 2012 and beyond with the DePuy ASR (Johnson&Johnson) defective hip implant cases. Twenty-five years of experience with defective IUD issues as well

Education/Credentials
Jurisdoctor Degree 1976 and Member in good standing with CA State Bar Assoc. since 1976

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