A recent medical malpractice case was resolved in Pennsylvania when a jury declined to blame a clinician for his patient’s death from cancer.

The patient, a 47-year old woman, had been going to the defendant urologist since 2005 after blood was discovered in her urine during a routine gynecological appointment. According to the argument by the plaintiff’s attorney, the defendant clinician originally conducted tests but discontinued some key tests for over a year, during which time the patient’s cancer developed. The plaintiff’s attorney argued that despite aggressive treatment, including removal of a kidney and several rounds of chemotherapy, the cancer was too advanced to stop by the time it was diagnosed. The patient subsequently died as a result of the cancer. The clinician, argued the plaintiff, was negligent for not monitoring his patient’s symptoms more carefully.

The defense argued that the patient’s death was due to a particularly aggressive form of cancer – small cell cancer – which often kills patients before they are even diagnosed. The defense attorney blamed the patient’s death on her lifelong smoking habit. She had reported smoking a pack and a half of cigarettes every day since she was 12. According to the clinician’s testimony, he begged the patient to quit smoking, but she refused, even continuing to smoke heavily as she underwent chemotherapy.

“The choices that you make in this life, you have to be responsible for. That’s all we’re asking for here,” said the defense attorney to the jury. “The cause of [the patient’s] demise was her smoking.” The jury agreed, finding the clinician not negligent in the death of the patient.

References     

  1. Kalinoski B. Woman with cancer sues W-B General Hospital, doctors. The Citizens’ Voice. May 21, 2010. http://citizensvoice.com/news/woman-with-cancer-sues-w-b-general-hospital-doctors-1.799759. Accessed June 20, 2016.
  2. Halpin J. Jury sides with doctor in medical malpractice case. The Citizens’ Voice. June 9, 2016. http://citizensvoice.com/news/jury-sides-with-doctor-in-medical-malpractice-case-1.2052937. Accessed June 20, 2016.