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23-Month Delay Costs Radiologist $550,000

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Earlier this month, a Pennsylvania jury awarded $550,000 in a medical-malpractice case against a radiologist for allegedly failing to properly report a mass that showed up on a chest CT scan.

The mass, on the right lung of Irene Doherty of Scranton, Pennsylvania, turned out to be cancerous. Another scan 23 months later revealed that the mass had doubled in size and had spread to the woman’s lymph nodes. At that point, the mass was too large for surgical removal.

Lawyers for Doherty, now 79, said radiologist Earl Detrick, MD, failed to properly report his conclusions regarding the first scan to either Doherty or her physician. Dr. Detrick practiced in Scranton and Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and is now retired.

Doherty’s lawyers said the 23-month delay in diagnosis subjected their client to increased pain and anxiety and decreased life expectancy. The trial took place in Lackawanna County Common Pleas Court in Scranton.

In other news, here’s an update of yesterday’s post:

The trustees of St. John’s Medical Center inĀ  Jackson, Wyoming, voted to pull out of Teton MRI, a partnership with private doctors and other investors. They worried that the partnership, and the hospital’s participation in it, may violate federal laws regarding kickbacks and self-referrals. During a meeting on Monday, according to the Jackson Hole News&Guide, trustee Barbara Herz said:

There are different legal opinions. We are listening to the advice of our counsel.

At least one trustee, Bruce Hayse, expressed concern about larger ethical issues. “There’s a question of influencing behavior related to scans,” he said. “Even individuals with the highest ethical standards, when making certain decisions, are capable of unconsciously making decisions that will benefit them.”

The hospital will likely buy its own MRI machine, setting up in competition with Teton MRI.

Jim Little Sr., MD, an investor in Teton MRI, said:

They made a bad decision that is going to have significant ramifications. They breached their fiduciary duty to manage the hospital effectively. And I think they’ve declared war on the medical staff.

Related seminar: Thoracic Imaging

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