Health care providers often need to refer a patient to a more specialized provider when presented with a case that proves to be a challenge. During the referral and patient monitoring process, it is expected that all records are shared and reviewed, and doctors follow-up on the patient. But many Maryland residents are finding that communication between them and their practitioners is breaking down, and the care provided is suffering. When such happens, doctors can find themselves facing a medical malpractice claim.
A woman in another state succumbed to treatable cancer after miscommunication between her doctors delayed a surgery that would have saved her life. The 70-year-old female patient was being seen by her primary care doctor and a urologist who were monitoring a growth on her kidney. She was told by her urologist to follow-up with him in six months, and he delayed surgery and other treatment options until then. When the patient began to complain of back pain in the area of her kidney, her primary doctor ordered a scan, and the radiologist noticed that the growth had grown. A follow-up with her urologist was suggested to rule out underlying malignancy, but the urologist was never informed.
A year later, the woman was scanned again and the mass had continued to increase. After further evaluation, it was found that the cancer had spread to other parts of the victim’s body aggressively. Surgery and treatment were no longer options. Had the urologist treated the growth when the time frame allowed, the medical malpractice lawsuit alleges that the victim would still be alive, as kidney cancers are the most curable. The $10 million award was handed out by a jury after a weeklong trial and three hours of deliberation.