Unfollowed radiology recommendation leads to patient death, $10M judgment

A urology practice in South Carolina has been ordered to pay $10 million for a member physician’s failure to treat a kidney cancer in a timely way, resulting in the death of a patient. And the patient’s life may have been saved if only the treating urologist, who is also on the hook individually, had followed the recommendations of his consulting radiologist.

Medicolegal observers may have much to mull over in considering whether or not justice was served by placing the blame on urologist Philip Kinder, MD, and Columbia Urological Associates. According to an article in The State newspaper of Columbia, S.C., the series of medical fumbles started with the failure of the patient’s primary care physician to relay the radiologist’s initial recommendation to Kinder.

The primary care doc was originally a defendant in the suit but was dismissed from the case with no finding of fault, the newspaper reports.

The $10 million jury award will go to the husband and children of the decedent, Joann Bannister, who was 70 at the time of her death.

“Such a high award is unusual,” patient advocate Helen Haskell tells the newspaper. “It sounds like the jury was really trying to send a message that doctors need to take more care in following up on patient symptoms.”

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