On June 24, 2016, a New Mexico medical malpractice jury determined that the defendant radiologist breached the standard of care when he failed to recognize a cancerous tumor on a patient’s spine but the jury also determined that the radiologist’s negligence was not the cause of the 44-year-old patient’s death from cancer. The plaintiff, who is the sister of the patient and sued on behalf of her sister’s estate, had settled the medical negligence claims against the defendant hospital before the trial.
The woman’s saga began in April 2010, when she experienced an infection and swelling in her left leg that caused her to go to the hospital. Later in April 2010, the woman was hospitalized as an inpatient for about two weeks.
A little over one year later, on May 17, 2011, the woman was referred for an x-ray and an MRI that were done at the hospital. The defendant radiologist read the woman’s x-ray and MRI and allegedly missed a small tumor in her lumbar spine that was obvious in the radiological images, and which the defense medical experts testified at trial was metastatic and life-threatening at that time.
The plaintiff’s New Mexico medical malpractice lawsuit claimed that the defendant radiologist breached the standard of care and committed medical malpractice by failing to timely diagnose the cancerous tumor in the woman’s spine when the cancer could have been successfully treated. The plaintiff alleged that there was an unnecessary delay of 14 months in diagnosing the woman’s cancer. By that time, her cancer had spread and progressed to the point where she her condition was terminal.
The New Mexico medical malpractice lawsuit was filed in 2013, when the woman was still alive, and the plaintiff played to the jury the videotaped deposition of the woman that was taken in 2013.
The defense argued that the woman had two, different cancers – cancer in her left thigh in 2010 and endometrial cancer that was diagnosed in 2012. The defense further argued that an ultrasound in 2010 found the woman’s tumor and the medical provider who performed the ultrasound had recommended that the woman receive follow up regarding the ultrasound findings at that time. The defense also pointed to the empty chair at the defense table at trial (the hospital had settled the New Mexico medical malpractice lawsuit filed against it in which it was initially named as a defendant), pointing out to the jury that the plaintiff had also sued the hospital for its failure to provide follow up care.
If you or a family member may have suffered serious injury (or worse) due to a radiologist misreading a CT scan, an MRI, an x-ray, or another radiology test in New Mexico or elsewhere in the United States, you should promptly find a medical malpractice lawyer in New Mexico or in your U.S. state who may investigate your radiology malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice claim against a radiologist, if appropriate.
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