Failure to diagnose leukemia

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February 23, 2016
 

Michael McNew, 37, did not feel well for one month. When he developed a sore throat, he went to an Ohio State University medical office, where a nurse performed a rapid strep test. About two weeks later, McNew returned to the office for treatment of hemorrhoid pain. This led to a referral to an Ohio State colorectal surgeon, who made a small incision in McNew’s hemorrhoid to relieve pressure.

That night, McNew became pale and sick. His wife called the surgeon and told him that McNew was requiring very frequent dressing changes. The surgeon prescribed additional pain medication. The next day, however, McNew called the surgeon to report dark bruising and was instructed to stop taking one of his pain medications. Several days later, McNew developed shortness of breath. The surgeon recommended that he follow up with a cardiologist.

That night, McNew collapsed. He was rushed to the hospital, where he later died. The cause was determined to be a brain bleed resulting from a low platelet count caused by undiagnosed acute promyelocytic leukemia. McNew is survived by his wife and three minor children.

McNew’s estate sued Ohio State, alleging its employees failed to perform necessary lab work as part of McNew’s diagnostic evaluation, and properly respond to his symptoms, including the excessive bleeding and shortness of breath after the surgery. The plaintiff asserted that a simple blood test would have led to a leukemia diagnosis and a platelet transfusion, giving McNew an 80-percent chance of survival. The plaintiff also claimed about $5 million in lost earnings for McNew.

The defense denied liability.

The parties settled for $1.7 million.

Citation: Ries v. Ohio St. Univ. Med. Ctr., No. 2010-10335 (Ohio Ct. Claims Oct. 30, 2015).

Plaintiff counsel: AAJ members David A. Shroyer and Daniel Abraham, both of Columbus, Ohio.

Plaintiff experts: Scott Hockenberry, general surgery, Columbus; Andrew Eisenberger, hematology, New York City; Jerome Daniel, family medicine, North Chesterfield, Va.; Anthony Gamboa Jr., economics, Louisville, Ky.; and Kenneth Braunstein, hematology, Atlanta.

Defense experts: Mark Fialk, oncology, Scarsdale, N.Y.; Bruce Jaffee, economics, Bloomington, Ind.; and Stephen Payne, internal medicine, Cincinnati.