A cancer missed, who’s responsible for telling the patient?

Amy Tuteur’s father tragically passed away, but could it have been prevented?

She recounts the story, where, after presenting coughing up blood, her father was then diagnosed with lung cancer. However, 7 months earlier, that mass was seen on a pre-operative chest x-ray.

The urologist who ordered the test failed to inform her father, and he was later sued, but was found not to be liable.

It’s a remarkable story, and a glaring error on the urologist’s part. An ordering physician always needs to take responsibility for the results of the test, even if it doesn’t fall under his specialty. His excuse was “that even though his signature was on the order form for the X-ray, he didn’t actually order it; the state of Massachusetts requires a pre-op chest X-ray for everyone over 50. Because he was mandated to order the X-ray, he couldn’t be held responsible; his name appeared on the form, but the state of Massachusetts had really been the one to order it.”

A ridiculous claim, and I can’t believe it worked in this instance.

In the end, the rules have now been changed, requiring the radiologist to directly talk to the ordering physician, who then must now track down the patient’s chart to follow-up on the results.

It’s sad that it had to take a malpractice trial to force some doctors to simply do their job.