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Old 10-22-2004, 07:46 PM   #1
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Leslie Mac HB User
Angry Malpractice???

I've never done this before but would love to get opinions on my Mom's care or should I say lack of care.

Mom had stage I lung cancer 8 years ago and part of her lung removed. All has been find until....
Fast forward to last Decmeber. She goes to her Oncologist (like she's been doing every 6 months for 8 years) with the number 1 symptom of lung cancer. A new cough that will not go away. Doctor say's see you in 6 months.
More symptoms develop over the next several months. She goes to her Internist with wheezing, shortness of breath, hoarseness. From about January '04 to June the Internist thinks she has alergies. (Like alergies are real common to develop when you're 65)! She (Internist) does not connect the dots. (lung cancer recurance I'm sure is much more common than late onset of alergies)
In June she sees her oncologist again (6 month visit). She tells him about all the other symtoms (above) and he gives her NOSE SPRAY and sends her on her way.
Internist sends her to an alergist. Alergist sends her to a pulmunary Doctor who orders a CAT immediately.
Diagnosis??? Stage IV Non-small cell lung cancer. Tumor 6cm in size obstructing her bronchial tube and a small spot on brain and adrenal gland.

Treatment (Radiation) just started today and Chemo starts Monday. Life expectancy 6 moths to 1 year.

Two Doctors (Oncologist and Internist) completely failed her. What do you think?

 
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Old 10-23-2004, 03:24 AM   #2
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Lucy32 HB User
Re: Malpractice???

Leslie,
I am going through something similar. Mom was going to several Dr.s for "severe eye pressure and nausea" We were at Dr.s every week for the whole summer. We saw her regular Dr., eye dr.s, and even a neurologist. She had lung cancer 10 years ago and had part of her lung removed for it.
In late summer,her symptoms were worsening. She had a friend take her to the ER and promptly had her first seizure there.
DX: Stage 4 metastatic lung cancer with mets to the brain. Pretty large tumor in her brain and no other cancers have been found. None of these Dr.s even looked for cancer considering her past. Even worse, the neurologist did not give her the results of the cat scan she had had 5 weeks prior to having the seizure! Turns out that the hospital never fully "dictated" the results of that cat scan. (meaning no one ever read the results of the scan and informed the neurologist of it. Nor did the Neurologist ever follow up on where this test even was)
The ER dr. that found the tumor was shocked that no one ever followed up on this test with her and stated to me that the tumor was, indeed, visable on the cat scan that was taken 5 weeks prior!
Prognosis for her is 4-6 months. We are 2 months into this and she is doing very well. She has had radiation and is still on Temador for chemo.
I did contact a lawyer because she wanted me to in hopes that this may not happen to someone else. I am so torn on this as even though I am very angry, I do not want her to focus whatever time she has left on a lawsuit.
Lawyers have told me that it takes about 2 years for a lawsuit like this to be done. Even then, the main point will be :Would finding this earlier have made a difference in her life expectancy? And no one can say if it would because of the kind of cancer it is. This kind of cancer already has a very poor survival rate and the lawyers say that a jury MAY be sympathetic or May not be.
So, who knows? As of yet, I have done nothing to pursue this matter. I am considering having the lawyer at least write a letter to the Neurologist about his lack of follow up. I feel strongly that a neurologist SHOULD have picked up on her symptoms as brain tumor related.
When I found out her DX, I noticed that nausea and head pressure/headaches are very common symptoms of a brain tumor! Why did no one pick up on this!!! Especially with her history! Brain mets are very common from lung cancer!
One bit of advice,prior to even mentioning this possible malpractice, I obtained copys of ALL of her test results and films and have them stored at my home. I have heard that films and test results can mysteriously dissappear from a hospital or Dr. office when malpractice is involved.
Sorry this is so long and I hope this may help you,
Lucy

 
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Old 10-23-2004, 06:54 AM   #3
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sawbuck44 HB Usersawbuck44 HB Usersawbuck44 HB User
Re: Malpractice???

This word, unfortunately, came to my mind in my family's situation also. But, due to the very nature of the disease it would be a complicated process to go through to prove any wrong doing on the part of the medical industry. Keeping good records (obtaining copies as well as journaling the treatment) is a must if you are even thinking about doing this. Doctors are very good at watching their backs. They will point out that they have to pursue every avenue of a condition a patient presents. If she had cancer previously, why were you not able to go to the pulmunary doctor sooner? I hope your response is not due to insurance reasons. My brother had troubles with his treatment due to insurance coverage issues. Take care and remain ever vigilant.
__________________
If you open the door even a little bit - the devil will fling it open. Keep it closed with prayer.

 
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Old 10-23-2004, 07:59 AM   #4
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SOCA HB User
Re: Malpractice???

LEGALLY, there are always exceptions to the rule but here's the general rule. It's all about life expectancy ( i.e. prognosis ) when it comes to metastatic cancer lawsuits. Namely, was the patient examined and MISdiagnosed PRIOR to metastases ? If so, and it can be proven ( i.e. symptoms, reasonable likelihood, etc. ), the patient has a strong case. If the MISdiagnosis occurs AFTER metastases the value of the lawsuit is greatly diminished. And, many busy attorneys won't bother with it unless they think that they can flip it for a quick settlement. Here is the one noteable exception to the metastatic rule. If someone is MISdiagnosed AFTER metastases and recovers to the point that their prognosis is significantly improved this longevity has value and can set up a strong argument for at least pain and suffering damages.

~ Bill ~

 
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Old 10-23-2004, 10:07 AM   #5
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Leslie Mac HB User
Re: Malpractice???

Quote:
Originally Posted by SOCA
LEGALLY, there are always exceptions to the rule but here's the general rule. It's all about life expectancy ( i.e. prognosis ) when it comes to metastatic cancer lawsuits. Namely, was the patient examined and MISdiagnosed PRIOR to metastases ? If so, and it can be proven ( i.e. symptoms, reasonable likelihood, etc. ), the patient has a strong case. If the MISdiagnosis occurs AFTER metastases the value of the lawsuit is greatly diminished. And, many busy attorneys won't bother with it unless they think that they can flip it for a quick settlement. Here is the one noteable exception to the metastatic rule. If someone is MISdiagnosed AFTER metastases and recovers to the point that their prognosis is significantly improved this longevity has value and can set up a strong argument for at least pain and suffering damages.

~ Bill ~

 
Old 10-23-2004, 10:17 AM   #6
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Leslie Mac HB User
Re: Malpractice???

Bill, Thanks for your informaiton. My family is not one to run to attorneys to sue but I do believe in my heart that had she had a CAT, PET and MRI after the initial symptom of a cough 10 months ago she would be alot better off than she is now. The mets on brain and adrenal gland are very small. I think the chances of them Not being there 10 months ago are great.
I had a long conversation with this particular Doctor last week. I used this example: I go to a dermatologist with a new spot on my arm that has the look of skin cancer. My doctor sends me away. I return 6 months later with 5 more spots and the doctor gives me lotion to put on it and sends me away.
This is what this oncologist did. First symptom nothing, 6 months later 5 more symptoms, he gives her nose spray thinking this is alergies. Now, maybe if he ran all the tests he should have run at the onset of these symptoms we would have seen that it had spread. But he didn't do these tests. That alone to me is malpractice. Sorry for the ranting..thanks for listening!

 
Old 10-23-2004, 10:23 AM   #7
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Leslie Mac HB User
Re: Malpractice???

Bill, One more thing I forgot to add to my example (of me going to the Dermatologist) that I discussed with my Mom's Doctor.
After I ws done talking he said "I completely agree with everything you just said" How's that for guilt!!
Les

 
Old 10-23-2004, 10:23 AM   #8
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LFCA HB User
Re: Malpractice???

My sister was diagnosed with emphzema (sp?) about five years ago. Follow-up visits were made yearly to the pulmonary specialist for x-rays, etc.

In her yearly visit two years ago this coming November, he told her that her recent x-ray showed that she had a "spot on her lung", which may or may not signify lung cancer. As it turned out, her x-ray from the previous year also showed that spot, though, for whatever reason, she was not informed.

She was immediately referred to an oncologist & subsequent tests did indeed confirm that she had non-small cell lung cancer. She was treated with both radiation & chemo, and although her life expectancy at best was maybe nine months, two years later she's still doing fine with very low cancer "numbers".

She talked to two different medical malpractice lawyers regarding her pulmonary care physician not inforeming her of the "lung spot" a year earlier, but both said that even with earlier detection, because of the poor prognosis with lung cancer, say as opposed to something like bladder or even breast cancer, it would be difficult to make a case that her outcome would have been any different. Now if she had not had the emphasema (which resulted in one collapsed lung), AND excision of the cancer lesion could have been performed early on which MAY have made a dramatic difference in life expectancy, she may have had a good malpractice case. But since her lungs were already in such bad condition, surgery would never have been an option anyway...& would likely have killed her.

While both attorneys agreed that physician negligence was involved, her case didn't rise to the level of a possible malpractice lawsuit.

 
Old 10-23-2004, 10:24 AM   #9
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Leslie Mac HB User
Re: Malpractice???

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lucy32
Leslie,
I am going through something similar. Mom was going to several Dr.s for "severe eye pressure and nausea" We were at Dr.s every week for the whole summer. We saw her regular Dr., eye dr.s, and even a neurologist. She had lung cancer 10 years ago and had part of her lung removed for it.
In late summer,her symptoms were worsening. She had a friend take her to the ER and promptly had her first seizure there.
DX: Stage 4 metastatic lung cancer with mets to the brain. Pretty large tumor in her brain and no other cancers have been found. None of these Dr.s even looked for cancer considering her past. Even worse, the neurologist did not give her the results of the cat scan she had had 5 weeks prior to having the seizure! Turns out that the hospital never fully "dictated" the results of that cat scan. (meaning no one ever read the results of the scan and informed the neurologist of it. Nor did the Neurologist ever follow up on where this test even was)
The ER dr. that found the tumor was shocked that no one ever followed up on this test with her and stated to me that the tumor was, indeed, visable on the cat scan that was taken 5 weeks prior!
Prognosis for her is 4-6 months. We are 2 months into this and she is doing very well. She has had radiation and is still on Temador for chemo.
I did contact a lawyer because she wanted me to in hopes that this may not happen to someone else. I am so torn on this as even though I am very angry, I do not want her to focus whatever time she has left on a lawsuit.
Lawyers have told me that it takes about 2 years for a lawsuit like this to be done. Even then, the main point will be :Would finding this earlier have made a difference in her life expectancy? And no one can say if it would because of the kind of cancer it is. This kind of cancer already has a very poor survival rate and the lawyers say that a jury MAY be sympathetic or May not be.
So, who knows? As of yet, I have done nothing to pursue this matter. I am considering having the lawyer at least write a letter to the Neurologist about his lack of follow up. I feel strongly that a neurologist SHOULD have picked up on her symptoms as brain tumor related.
When I found out her DX, I noticed that nausea and head pressure/headaches are very common symptoms of a brain tumor! Why did no one pick up on this!!! Especially with her history! Brain mets are very common from lung cancer!
One bit of advice,prior to even mentioning this possible malpractice, I obtained copys of ALL of her test results and films and have them stored at my home. I have heard that films and test results can mysteriously dissappear from a hospital or Dr. office when malpractice is involved.
Sorry this is so long and I hope this may help you,
Lucy

 
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Old 10-23-2004, 10:36 AM   #10
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Leslie Mac HB User
Re: Malpractice???

Hi Lucy,
I new I wasn't alone! I have really learned through this how diligent we need to be in our own care. Doctors are so busy with so many patients they are not connecting the dots.
I don't know if we will seek the advise of an attorney. Maybe I'll just scare him and let him think he'll be sued!
I hope all goes well with your Mom.
Leslie

Last edited by Leslie Mac; 10-23-2004 at 10:36 AM.

 
Old 10-23-2004, 09:19 PM   #11
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Tree_Thing HB User
Re: Malpractice??? Long reply

Leslie Mac and all others:

My mother had been seen her primary care physician for years. This man was also responsible for the mishandling of a couple of other family members who subsequently died of their cancers because he did not help them detect them early enough.

In my mother's case - she had been seeing him from May to Sept 2002 complaining of severe rib pain. She was downing unholy amounts of ibuprofen and whatever else she could find to relieve the pain. Her physician would not give her anything stronger. We later found out it was because he was a convicted and reprimanded addict who lost his prescription rights for a few years.

He because of his prior experience with my other family members kept insisting that Mom get a GI done. He did the bronchial thing looking for an ulcer or something. At one point the arrogant SOB told her "quit worrying about dying and get on with living" That was the 1st week in Sept 02.

On Sept 9th, 2002 at her families urging I told Mom to drive into town - Abilene and go to the ER ( I told her that her HMO would have to pay for the visit if she was sick while visiting relatives). They took an xray of her abdomen (because they too thought perhaps an ulcer). Right there, plain as the nose on your face was a tumor that was attached to the lower part of her heart, connected to the spine, lung and esophagus.

If at any time that jackXXX would have taken the time to do an xray of all things he would have seen it.

I called his office that next business day and told them to send her records to me and her new primary dr., an oncologist because Dr. know-it-all missed the boat, AGAIN.

I found an attorney who had very close ties with MD Anderson. They reviewed all the medical information I supplied them. Their conclusion: due to the nature and statistics involved with NSCLC, the few months difference between May and Sept would not have made a difference in her prognosis or diagnosis. That the Dr. was indeed acting in poor regard to his patients pain but that he hadn't overstepped any bounds.

Mom began chemo in Nov 02. - by May of 2003 her tumor had shrunk from 5.5 cm dia to less than 1/2 of that. I always wondered if she could have started a few months earlier, May 2002, if they would have been able to erradicate the tumor all together.

She has since done EVERY chemo regime for NSCLC to wind up in Sept of this year with osteoporosis so severe her entire spine is a fracture and she can no longer take any other treatments and now we are dealing with her original prognosis of less than 6 months survivability. When I asked her oncologist why he did not give her medications to counteract the chemo's effects of bone detioration, he stated her medical records didn't indicate she had osteoporosis. Come to find out, her original primary dr.'s office did not forward her records as my written request by POA authorized them to do. We never questioned that she wasn't continuing with the Actinel or Fosamax that she had been taking previously.

So my point of all this is - to my regret that man who took an oath to protect and provide healing and care is still practicing NO medicine in a small Texas town where people have no choice but to either see him, as he is there in town or drive a 2 hour round trip to go to a larger town. Like my Mom, most people there earn a meager livelihood and can't afford to lose a half day or more going to the dr. - therefore, they take their chances with the quack and hope for the best.

So sorry to have gotten up on my soapbox. This rotten excuse for a dr. condecendingly told my mother that her fears ( justly felt ) were of no concern. He dismissed them just like that, when he knew that he personally treated two of her family members that died from prostate cancer. One sister died from breast cancer and My mom already had a diagnosis of emphysema ( which is why she quit smoking 3 years earlier) and she had another sister who died from emphysema.

Okay, I'll stop now. I know I didn't do you any good with our drama. But you should know that you are not alone. I believe that there is some type of "quiet' protocol they follow that says, "if you can prove you were doing something versus nothing or not the right thing atleast you can prevail." That's why we can't win a suit - they blame it all on the timing of diagnosis - most NSCLC is diagnosed at later stages when options and time are short.
If time is of the essence, you'd think they'd would be all over early treatment. Isn't that what they say about mammography and breast cancer?


Your sister in pain,
Tree_Thing (Lisa)

 
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