There is an increased risk of harm doctrine in Pennsylvania state that is similar to the loss of chance law in some other states by which a doctor can be held liable if his or her negligence is determined to have increased the risk of harm to a patient. For example, with a disease such as cancer, not caused by the doctor, negligence such as incorrect treatment or failure to diagnose could reduce or eliminate the survival chances of the patient. A widower in another state recently filed a lawsuit against an imaging company and a doctor who is one of its directors, alleging medical negligence in failure to diagnose breast cancer.
According to the complaint, the wife of the plaintiff underwent a mammogram in October of 2014, at which time the doctor allegedly did not detect a mass in her right breast. The suit alleges that the plaintiff's failure to use the imaging equipment correctly resulted in poor quality images. Court documents show that the patient was sent back to the defendant seven months later, at which time multiple masses and an enlarged liver were found.
In July 2015, the plaintiff's wife went for mammograms at a medical facility. At this time it was discovered that cancer had spread to her liver and lymph nodes, and after undergoing chemotherapy, she died on Aug. 8, 2015, at the age of 62. Under the lost chance of survival doctrine, the widower claims that the doctor's failure to diagnose stage 1 cancer allowed it to develop to stage 4 -- eliminating her chances of survival.
Medical malpractice is a complicated area of the law, and Pennsylvania residents who have lost loved ones as the result of medical negligence may benefit from discussing the circumstances with an experienced medical malpractice attorney. A lawyer can assess the available information and obtain documented details that may not be readily accessible to the client. Based on the gathered evidence, the attorney can suggest the most appropriate legal steps to take.
Source: stltoday.com, "Doctor's missed breast cancer diagnosis led to St. Louis County woman's death, suit claims", Joel Currier, July 28, 2016