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OH: failure to diagnose breast cancer--death: court affirmed jury verdict for defendant Dr.

CASE FACTS: Stella Shields was a patient of Dr. Jeffrey Klein. Shields came to Klein's office once in 1994 and again in 1996 for routine physical examinations and on numerous occasions with a variety of medical complaints. At one of her regular physicals, Klein performed a breast examination and ordered a mammogram. None of the results raised any suspicion of cancer. On August 12, 1997, Shields contacted Klein's office complaining of tenderness in her right breast. Klein was not in. His office manager ordered a mammogram, which was performed on August 18, 1997. The radiologist's report noted dense areas in both breasts that appeared to be benign. The radiologist recommended that the patient have a "critical clinical correlation" essentially, a corroborating physical breast examination and another mammogram in sixth months. Shields' tenderness had subsided when Dr. Klein next saw her. Dr. Klein concluded no breast exam was unnecessary. Subsequently, Shields was diagnosed with cancer, which led to her death. Her estate filed suit against Dr. Klein., alleging, inter alia, that by the time she was diagnosed with cancer it was too late for treatment. After a trial, a jury returned a verdict for Dr. Klein. The estate appealed.

COURT'S OPINION: The Court of Appeals of Ohio affirmed judgment on the jury verdict that Dr. Klein was not liable for the wrongful death of the patient. The court held, inter alia, that the patient contacted Dr. Klein's office in late March 1998, about seven months alter the August 18, 1997, mammogram, complaining of a right breast nipple retraction that had appeared two or three months earlier. Dr. Klein performed another breast examination of the patient on March 27, 1998. Finding no abnormalities, other than the retracted nipple, he referred the patient for another mammogram, which was performed on April 3, 1998. The radiologist's report noted the presence of a dense spot in the upper outer quadrant of the patient's right breast, which was essentially unchanged from the patient's prior mammograms and therefore, did not indicate that cancer might be present. Nevertheless, the radiologists indicated that it would be "prudent to consider" a biopsy in light of the patient's nipple retraction. Upon receiving the report, Dr. Klein referred the patient to Dr. Gary Williams, a general surgeon. After an examination and an ultrasound, Dr. Williams determined that the dense spot on the patient's breast was not cause for concern. Dr. Williams biopsied unusual tissue near the patient's nipple. It was negative. The court concluded, assuming, arguendo, that the trial court erroneously admitted evidence in favor of Dr. Klein, the prejudicial effect was inconsequential. Hazard v. Klein, No (Ohio App. Dist.901/31/2007) N.E.2d -OH

Meet the Editor & Publisher: A. David Tammelleo, JD, is a nationally recognized authority on health care law. Practicing law for over 40 years, he concentrates in health care law with the Rhode Island firm of A. David Tammelleo & Associates. He has presented seminars on medical, nursing and hospital law throughout the United States. In addition to his writings as Editor of Medical Law's, Nursing Law's & Hospital Law's Regan Reports, his legal articles have been published in the most prestigious health law journals. A prolific writer, his thousands of articles, as well as his achievements as an attorney and lecturer, have won him recognition in Martindale-Hubbell's Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers, Marquis Who's Who in American Law, Who's Who in America and Who's Who in the World.
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Title Annotation:Medical Law Cases of Note; Ohio; Dr. Jeffrey Klein
Author:Tammelleo, A. David
Publication:Medical Law's Regan Report
Geographic Code:1U3OH
Date:Jun 1, 2007
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