Failure of Primary Care Doctor to Refer Patient for Colonoscopy or for Consultation with Gastroenterologist
This case involved stark discrepancies in the stories of our client, a 42-year-old patient, and his Primary care doctor. In 2008, our client – a loving husband and father of six biological children and five adopted children – told his doctor he was suffering from rectal bleeding. His doctor performed a digital rectal exam and ordered blood work and diagnosed our client with hemorrhoids. Our client requested a colonoscopy, but his doctor denied his request.
From 2009 to 2011, our client continued to suffer from periodic rectal bleeding, blood in his stools, and abdominal pain. In 2010 and 2011, our client was examined by his doctor – including rectal examinations which left blood on the doctor’s hand – and on both occasions the doctor told our client he only had hemorrhoids. At each visit our client asked for a colonoscopy, and each time his doctor refused to refer him for one. In 2014, sadly, our client was diagnosed with stage IIA rectal cancer. We filed a lawsuit against the doctor for his failure to refer our client for a colonoscopy or for a consultation with a gastroenterologist, which would have caught the cancer earlier and prevented significant permanent harm to our client. Throughout this case, the doctor’s defense was that he denied ever seeing or evaluating our client in his office in 2010 and 2011. In fact, no office visits records were produced for the 2010 and 2011 office visits. Further, the medical records contained no reference to any complaints of rectal bleeding or rectal exams performed.
Our client underwent a course of chemotherapy and serious surgery that involved the placement of a rectal tube and a colostomy bag. As a result of his condition and his treatment, our client is forced to live with a permanent colostomy bag. His wife has had to assume all caretaking responsibilities in assisting him with maintaining his colostomy bag.