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Defense prevails in medical malpractice case.

Byline: Michigan Lawyers Weekly Staff

This 67-year-old plaintiff had been smoking since the age of 14 and recognized the dangers of smoking, plus had many comorbidities. He had been urged by many physicians to quit smoking, exercise and control his diet, according to defense counsel. In 2009, plaintiff saw long-time treating defendant physician (since 2001) complaining of a cough/cold. A chest X-ray revealed a density in the right infrahilar region. When plaintiff was no better and coughing up thick brown phlegm, a CT was ordered in May 2009 showing a small area of fibrosis or scarring on the lateral left upper lobe and nonspecific borderline lymph nodes in the right hilum. A second CT scan was performed two months later, again showing similar findings with the radiologist recommending a follow-up CT exam in four to six months. Defendant treating physician did not want to wait, spoke with the family and immediately sent the patient to cardiothoracic surgeon, Oktavijan Minanov, M.D., who ordered a PET scan to determine what to do. The PET scan was negative for cancer and, although the reading radiologist recommended a follow-up in the form of a CT scan versus tissue sampling, the specialist did not believe the recommendation was necessary and was correct, as the area of concern on the right-sided nodes never developed into cancer, according to defense counsel. From August 2009 through May 2, 2013, defendant physician saw plaintiff on 15 occasions, mostly for checkups relating to diabetes and underlying problems. Plaintiffs experts agreed there were no signs or symptoms of lung cancer, but plaintiffs expert in internal medicine, Dr. Neil Farber, contended that because of the underlying scarring in the lung, periodic follow-up CT scans should have been conducted when there was a diagnosis of cough accompanied by head colds, according to defense counsel. In December 2013, Medicare indicated that asymptomatic 30-pack year smokers of plaintiffs age should have a CT scan. The first time defendant physician saw plaintiff following this indication, this was done and revealed stage III-B cancer. Farber contended that on at least on two occasions, in 2012 and 2013, defendant physician should have done follow-up CT scans which would have discovered the growing cancer at a time when a lobectomy could have been done, almost entirely avoiding the risk of death. Additionally, as there was no post-PET scan testing communication between Minanov and defendant physician, plaintiff contended defendant physician should have communicated with the consultant, learned of his opinions (that nothing needed to be done), should have obtained a copy of the PET scan, should not have relied on the expertise of the consultant, and should have followed with a CT scan four to six months after sending the patient to the consultant. Defendant stated that once the patient is sent to the consultant, the care, treatment and decisions are within the consultants purview. If something needs to be done, the consultant will follow or notify the referring physician that additional follow-up needs to be done. Scott A. Saurbier, counsel for defense, provided case information. Type of action: Medical malpractice Injuries alleged: Failure to order lung cancer screening tests and diagnose lung cancer. Name of case: Murray Eddings vs. William Beaumont Hospital, et al. Court/Case no./Date: Macomb County Circuit Court/2015-0047-NH/Dec. 13, 2017 Tried before: Jury Name of judge: Hon. Kathryn Viviano Demand: $75,000 Highest offer: $,000 Case evaluation: $190,000 Verdict: No cause of action Most helpful experts: Most helpful physicians for the defense were plaintiffs internal medicine expert, Dr. Neil Farber; plaintiffs expert oncologist Ronald Blum, M.D., who agreed there were no signs and symptoms of cancer until the Medicare screening test revealed the cancer; defendants internal medicine expert Dr. Virginia Zacharias, Oktavijan Minanov, M.D., and pulmonologist Thomas Gravelyn, M.D., according to defense counsel Insurance carrier: Self-insured Attorney for plaintiff: Jeffrey T. Meyers, Timothy M. Takala Attorneys for defendant: Scott A. Saurbier, Elizabeth A. Pyden

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Publication:Michigan Lawyers Weekly
Date:Feb 8, 2018
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