Alan D. Bell Attorney at Law
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Failure to diagnose cancer led to woman's death

The death of a loved one is rarely an easy pill to swallow, and when that death was caused by an apparent act of malpractice, it can be even more difficult to comprehend. One woman’s death as a result of failure to diagnose cancer was the result of a doctor in another state. He is also licensed to practice medicine in New Jersey. Although he had previously lost his license to practice in a neighboring state, he retained the ability to practice in three total states. Nevertheless, he was required to inform those states of his license revocation and apparently failed to do so.

In June 2008, an elderly woman visited her primary care physician over due to significant abdominal and pelvic pain. Her doctor ordered a CT scan that revealed that there was substantial, malignant mass on her pancreas. However, her doctor never actually told her of the tumor nor did he mention it anywhere in the patient’s medical record.

Just over two years after that fateful CT scan and only two weeks following the patient’s discovery that she had pancreatic cancer, she died. However, her doctor recorded her death as caused by liver disease, and not the tumor. It was later discovered that he had falsified this patient’s records in what appeared to have been a hopeful attempt to circumvent responsibility for her death. These events occurred in Florida, one of the three states (along with New Jersey and Arizona) where the man continued to practice after his license was revoked in New York

Florida also revoked the doctor's license as a result of the allegations surrounding the misdiagnosis and falsification of the patient's medical records. However, he was ultimately permitted to keep his license, although at some point he has been ordered to serve a six-month long suspension, along with probation. However, failure to diagnose cancer is a serious misstep in the overall care and management of a patient’s healthcare needs. Families of victims who have lost their lives due to a missed diagnosis may seek help in assessing the viability of a medical malpractice claim against the parties deemed responsible. While the successful litigation of such a claim can provide financial recourse for monetary damages, it can also give families a sense of justice and peace in the wake of their loved one’s death.

Source: Miami Herald, "Miami doctor who falsified patient records keeps license", Daniel Chang, June 6, 2014

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Alan D. Bell
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