A Hyannis doctor, his nurse practitioner (NP) and their physicians group are being sued by the widow of a deceased patient.
The decedent, who was a political activist and attorney, died last year after being diagnosed with gastric cancer. The defendants are accused of the man's wrongful death and medical malpractice because they allegedly failed to diagnose the cancerous tumor between the man's small intestine and stomach. The patient passed away on Jan. 4, 2017 at the age of 58.
His widow filed her lawsuit in Barnstable Superior Court on Oct. 9. She alleges eight counts of wrongdoing in her petition for damages and is seeking punitive damages for her husband's conscious pain and suffering. The petition invokes a legal doctrine designed to hold the physicians group practice responsible for its employees' negligence.
The man initially presented at the doctor's Cape Cod Internal Medicine practice on Nov. 29, 2005 with complaints of upper abdominal pain below his ribs and indigestion. In her case notes, the NP stated that the patient may need to have an upper endoscopy if the symptoms persisted. That diagnostic test passes a tiny camera through a patient's digestive system to the small intestine to determine if there are blockages.
He had additional visits where he was treated for similar symptoms by either the NP or the doctor. In January 2014, another physician recommended an endoscopy, yet this test was never performed. On Oct. 2, 2015, the man was admitted to Cape Cod Hospital. Prior to his admission, the physician defendant expressed concerns that his patient had a mass somewhere between his stomach and throat.
He was then transferred to Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital. Surgeons there removed the tumor and diagnosed him with stage 4 gastric cancer. He received treatment for his advanced stage cancer at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, but was too far advanced to be successfully treated.
Negligent practitioners who fail to diagnose their patients in a timely manner can be held liable for these egregious medical breaches. A lawsuit won't bring the patient back, but it can help provide closure and a path to move forward.