Dr. M and his nurse practitioner discussed the case and both believed the patient was prone to hyperbole and exaggeration, and believed that her frequent trips to the doctor’s office were attention-seeking behavior.

However, this was not the case. The following March, four months after her last visit to Dr. M’s practice, Miss G saw a covering physician on a day when Dr. M was off. The covering doctor noted that her right nostril was blocked and told her to see Dr. M immediately the next day.

The following day, Dr. M (based on the notes from the covering physician regarding the blocked nostril) referred Miss G to an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist. At her first visit, the ENT doctor diagnosed a mass. The patient underwent endoscopic surgery, but a MRI in May revealed that the tumor had extended intracranially. The patient subsequently underwent craniofacial resection and post-operative radiation therapy. Despite aggressive treatment, however, the cancer returned and Miss G died the following December – nine months after being diagnosed by the ENT specialist, and 22 months after her initial visit to Dr. M.

Her parents were heartbroken. As time passed, their heartbreak morphed into anger. At the suggestion of a friend, the parents sought the counsel of a plaintiff’s attorney to see whether they might have a case against Dr. M’s practice. The attorney hired a medical expert to review the patient’s records. The medical expert opined that Dr. M should have referred the patient to an ENT specialist on her third visit, when she complained of nosebleeds in addition to the other symptoms.

“That would have been 7 months before she was actually diagnosed. Had she been diagnosed in August, rather than the following March, she would have had a far better chance of survival,” said the expert.

“I believe we have a case,” said the attorney.

The family retained the attorney and a lawsuit was filed against Dr. M and his practice.

Dr. M felt terrible about what had happened to Miss G, and was alarmed when he was notified about the lawsuit. He had never been sued before. He immediately contacted the defense attorney provided by his malpractice insurance. The defense attorney also hired a medical expert to go over the records.