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Appeals court upholds medical malpractice verdict

Medical malpractice comes in many forms: failure to diagnose a medical condition, improper treatment of an illness, surgical error and many others. Doctors in Pennsylvania and elsewhere are held to an exacting standard in treating patients: they must use the same degree of skill and care as other doctors in the specialty in diagnosing and treating patients. In a recent appellate court decision, the failure of a physician to diagnose the spread of cancer to the patient's brain was held by an appellate court to be a departure from the applicable standard of care.

The patient was originally hospitalized for treatment of kidney cancer. His treating physicians noticed a brain lesion, but they failed to detect the fact that the lesion was cancerous. Instead, they concluded that the tumor was a benign meningioma and failed to treat it. Testimony at trial showed that the tumor could have been treated if the doctors had made a timely diagnosis. The court affirmed the jury's award of $1.7 million.

The court ruled that the doctor was negligent because, although he detected the lesion, he failed to diagnose the existence of a cancerous tumor. After a thorough review of the trial court record, the appellate court found no reversible error. The case may not be over. The defendants have the right to request a rehearing by the appellate court and, if that fails, to seek review by the state supreme court. A rehearing is rarely granted, and the supreme court is unlikely to accept an appeal from what appears to be a case that was properly decided by the appellate court.

Anyone who has suffered from a doctor's failure to diagnose an illness or other medical condition, or, like the family in the case, lost a loved one due to a doctor's error, may wish to consult one of the lawyers at Leisawitz Heller in Reading who are experienced in medical malpractice cases. Such a consultation can provide a useful evaluation of the facts and law that govern the case and an estimate of the likelihood of recovering damages for medical expenses, lost income and pain and suffering.

Source: Legal Reader, "Appeals Court Upholds Medical Malpractice Verdict," Sara E. Teller, May 15, 2017

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