Summary Judgement Motion in Colon Cancer Case

Summary Judgement Motion in Colon Cancer Case

Managing and Appellate Partner, Michael N. Romano, and Senior Associate, Adam T. Brown, secured summary judgment on behalf of our clients, an emergency department physician and medical center.

The claim in this case against MCB's clients and our co-defendants was the failure to diagnose colon cancer.  The decedent presented to the emergency department with complaints of right upper quadrant epigastric pain of three months duration, with vomiting. The emergency department physician ordered a CT scan of the abdomen to rule out an intestinal obstruction. This was interpreted as showing a moderately distended loop of small bowel secondary to enteritis, however a nearly or partial small bowel obstruction could not be ruled out.

It was alleged the emergency department physician should have called in a gastroenterologist to perform a consultation, should have ordered several diagnostic tests, including a colonoscopy, and should have admitted the decedent for further work-up. It was also claimed the emergency department physician should not have relied upon the interpretation of the CT scan by the co-defendant radiologist, who allegedly misinterpreted the study.

In support of summary judgment, the affirmation of an expert in emergency medicine was submitted. This expert opined our client acted appropriately by taking a detailed medical history, performing a proper physical examination, and ordering the correct diagnostic test, a CT scan of the abdomen and pelvis. It was further opined the emergency department physician correctly deferred to the co-defendant radiologist with respect to interpretation of the CT scan. In this regard, we cited the longline of cases holding it is not a deviation from the standard of care for a physician, here an ED physician, to defer to a specialist, the co-defendant radiologist. Finally, we argued discharge was appropriate without consultation by a gastroenterologist, or further work-up, where the decedent advised he had a future appointment scheduled with his gastroenterologist.  

The plaintiffs were unable to raise an issue of fact in opposition and our motion was granted by the court.