In a Western District of Pennsylvania court, a judge has refused a motion for summary judgment brought by defendant Dr. Barry Eisenberg in a medical malpractice case involving the death of an inmate at the Correctional Institution at Laurel Highlands that he provided care for. In addition, the family of Michael McGovern alleges that Eisenberg violated his eighth amendment rights and also names Correct Care Solutions LLC and three other medical providers as defendants.
The Laurel Highland prison is the state's designated facility for the incarceration of those with advanced medical problems such geriatric offenders needing personal or long-term care, or those undergoing dialysis treatment, etc.
Eisenberg is accused of failing to diagnose and treat cancer that was detected in McGovern's jaw bone after he had initially complained of the problem to Dr. Csaba Mihaly. According to Mihaly's notes, he appeared to have a “submandibular gland adenocarcinoma” and thus should be seen by an oncologist, although he did not order one. At the time Mihaly also noted that McGovern's immune system was weakened due to being HIV-positive.
McGovern next visited with Dr. Eisenberg, whose notes stated that the outlook was bleak as a result of the cancer. During this period, the claim accuses Eisenberg of assuming the role of a “bystander” relative to McGovern's care. He is said to have violated the standards of care by failing to initiate actions to further medical treatment.
Roughly a year later, McGovern was seen at the UPMC Department of Otolaryngology, where the cancer was assessed as being in stage IV. The plaintiffs believe that during the prior year's visit with McGovern that the cancer was likely in stage II, a time when cancer treatment delivers much better chances for survival. In stage II, the chance of surviving for five-years is 75%, compared to a rate of only 39% when the disease have progressed to the stage IV level.
The plaintiffs explained that Eisenberg had a duty to provide adequate care, which was clearly breached. The plaintiffs introduced expert testimony that suggested the doctor's negligent actions were demonstrated when he failed to accelerate the processes of testing and treatment. As a result of this negligence, McGovern was found to have incurred significant damages. The judge stated that the “elements were satisfied” for a malpractice claim.
Pennsylvania law outlines claims of professional medical liability as those pursuing redress for losses that arise from any breach of contract or tort. In cases of cancer, a delayed or improper diagnosis can result in damages such as medical costs, pain and suffering, losses of wages, and more. When a failure or delay in diagnosing cancer occurs, there is likely a decrease in the chance of surviving, as treatment is much less effective. Some common examples in these cases may include:
- Not detecting the existence of abnormal growths, lumps, or masses
- Failing to order applicable tests for cancer detection
- Usage of faulty or inadequate screening methods or devices for cancer diagnosis