A woman, working as a health aide, was accompanying her 'patient' to the doctor's office. She was in a van that was transporting her and her patient for a routine office visit. On the way, the van was involved in a car accident. The woman hit her head during the accident and both she, and the patient were taken to the emergency room by ambulance. Ironically, the accident happened in front of the hospital they were taken to.
Because of her head injury, the woman had an MRI of her head. She also had x-rays and blood work done while she was in the emergency room. The x-rays were normal, as was the blood work. She was also told that her MRI was normal as well. "Go home, take some tylenol, and you'll be fine," said the emergency room doctor.
About five months later, this woman started having difficulty seeing out of one of her eyes. She thought she needed eyeglasses. She went to her local eyeglass store where an optometrist examined her and gave her a prescription for eyeglasses. He noticed something in the eye that was troubling her and suggested she see an eye doctor for further evaluation. Shortly afterward, she made an appointment with a local eye doctor who also noticed something abnormal. By this time, her vision was getting worse by the day. It got so bad that this woman could barely see anything out of her eye. Her eye doctor ordered an MRI.
The MRI showed that there was a brain tumor compressing the nerve that controls sight in the eye- the optic nerve. "Do you know that you have brain tumor?" the doctor asked this patient. No. In fact, only five months ago, I had an MRI of my head done at the local emergency room, and they said everything looked good. "Get me a copy of the MRI, will you?" asked the eye doctor.
The patient made arrangements to send her MRI and MRI report from the hospital to her eye doctor. Contained within the report was this statement "Patient has a mass that appears to be close to the optic nerve. Follow-up recommended."
"You were never given a copy of this report?" asked the eye doctor with disbelief."No, they told me my MRI was normal," said the patient."Did anyone ever call you from the hospital and tell you to return for follow-up treatment regarding this mass in your brain?" asked the eye doctor."Nobody from the hospital ever called me," responded the patient.
What this patient learned after coming to us to investigate her potential medical malpractice matter was that the emergency room doctors treated her correctly. The doctors ordered the appropriate tests for her as well. The problem started after the MRI was read and nobody ever informed the patient that she had this abnormal mass in her brain.
If this observation had been communicated to the patient, she would have had elective surgery to remove the tumor (it was a benign tumor that was creating a mass-effect, causing compression on all the structures surrounding the tumor). The tumor would have been removed before it started to change her vision in one eye. Over the five months since the car accident, the tumor had grown so large as to cut off the blood supply in the optic nerve, causing her to go blind on that one eye.
Even though this woman had surgery to remove the tumor, there was nothing anyone could do to restore the vision in her eye. She was permanently blind in that eye. Why? Because the radiologist who read the MRI never communicated this finding to the emergency room doctor. Another factor causing miscommunication was that the emergency room doctor never received a copy of the MRI report. What happened was that the radiologist dictated his report- which was an accurate report. We had no issue with what he found in the MRI.
The big problem was that nobody in the hospital communicated the abnormality in the patient's brain TO THE PATIENT! The radiology report was simply filed in the patient's chart, which was no longer in the emergency room, since the emergency room doctor discharged the patient shortly after the MRI was done. Nobody ever 'red-flagged' the report to see if the patient was recalled to the hospital, or to see if she received treatment for the abnormal mass in her head.
Here, the tumor was right in front of the doctors' eyes. Yet nobody ever told the patient she had this tumor. As a result, the tumor continued to grow causing the optic nerve to die. This patient lost vision in her eye solely as a result of the mistakes made by the doctors in the hospital. This was a preventable occurrence. Unfortunately for this patient, she will never regain her sight.
This is one example of how we helped an injured victim in her quest for justice. A thorough investigation and prosecution of the case resulted in a favorable settlement right before a jury was selected for trial.
Gerry Oginski is an experienced medical malpractice and personal injury trial attorney practicing law in Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, New York, Staten Island, Nassau & Suffolk. He has tirelessly represented injured victims in all types of medical malpractice and injury cases for over 19 years. As a solo practitioner he is able to devote 100% of his time to each individual client. A client is never a file number in his office.
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