In Oregon as well as anywhere else, if a doctor removes a tumor and tells the patient that he is cancer-free, the patient will rely on that diagnosis and not pursue any further procedures. However, if a pathology report issued a week later shows bladder cancer, the doctor has a duty to contact the patient, indicate a misdiagnosis, and set up further diagnostic and treatment procedures. The seriousness of the condition and the tendency of bladder cancer to reoccur should be explained to the patient.

That scenario is playing out in another state, where the defendant doctor is claiming that he told the patient that he had a cancerous tumor but that the patient failed to follow through on obtaining treatment. The patient died over a year later after he went to another physician and found out he had cancer, according to a lawsuit he filed while still alive. His daughter has taken over administration of the lawsuit on behalf of her father.

The doctor's defense, which accuses the patient of failing to act, may be difficult to maintain as a viable contention. The facts tend to place a substantial duty on the doctor to keep the patient fully informed and engaged in a treatment plan. Even if the patient failed to respond to initial instructions, the doctor had a duty under normal protocol to pursue the patient to require either immediate treatment measures or a formal transfer of the file to another doctor.

The essence of a misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose case like this one is that an early diagnosis followed by early treatment would have added years to the patient's life.  It may have even resulted in a lengthy remission. If it is proved that the doctor did not adequately inform and communicate with the client, which caused the condition to go untreated, then a case for professional negligence will be established pursuant to Oregon law and all other jurisdictions.


Source: Chicago Tribune, "Lawsuit: Doctor didn't inform patient of cancer", Wes Venteicher, Sept. 11, 2014