The family of an 81-year-old Florida woman who died at Mercy Hospital in 2010 from pancreatic cancer believes that her doctor of 11 years knew about the cancer two years prior to telling her about it. According to the family, the doctor noticed a tumor during an image test, failed to tell the woman about it until 2010 and then altered the records to cover up his mistake.
Evidence that was presented to an administrative law judge was deemed to be incriminating, and the doctor was ultimately suspended for six months and fined $35,000 by the Florida Board of Medicine. Although there is reported evidence and an admission from the doctor admitting his mistake, according to Florida law, the family of woman cannot sue her doctor for the wrongful death of the woman.
This is apparently because the law does not allow a person to sue unless they are a dependent under the age of 25 or the spouse of the deceased person. However, the Florida Department of Health is trying to find a way to provide a way to increase the penalties for such actions. A local media outlet reached out to the doctor, but he said that he could not comment because the case was being appealed by the Department of Health.
Patients expect that they will receive full disclosure from their doctors regarding their health. This means that if a doctor makes a mistake, he or she is supposed to tell the patient about it to ensure that the patient can make an informed decision about his or her healthcare. If a doctor makes a mistake that leads to permanent injury or disability, it may be worthwhile to talk to a medical malpractice attorney. An attorney may be able to win punitive damages as well as compensation for incurred medical bills.
Source: NBC Miami, “Woman Dies & Doctor Suspended After Investigators Say He Altered Records“, July 31, 2014