Doctor Who Did Not Inform Patient of Kidney Mass Not Guilty of Fraudulent Concealment
July 27, 2022 | Strategic Insights for Health System
For more than 12 years, a patient was not informed about a right kidney mass that eventually became malignant, even though there were multiple opportunities to inform her during differing episodes of treatment for a variety of ailments. The physicians involved with her care did not alert her to the existence of the mass or follow through on recommendations to investigate the mass further. This case resulted in the Iowa Supreme Court weighing the time a plaintiff has to bring a claim (Statute of Limitations) against the right of a defendant to be free from liability for their actions (Statute of Repose).
In 2004, during a hospital stay for abdominal pain, a computed tomography (CT) scan showed evidence of a benign cyst on the patient's right kidney; she was not told about the cyst. In 2009, an ER physician (the defendant) treated the patient for mild colitis. A CT scan conducted at that time showed a large exophytic mass on the right kidney. The resident physician working with the ER doctor documented a suggestion to get an MRI to investigate the mass. The note also reflected that the mass and the recommendation were discussed with the patient, which she denied. Information about the suggested MRI or the mass were not included in discharge paperwork. The plaintiff returned to the ER within the week and was treated by the ER doctor's partner; as a result, another CT scan was performed. The scan results showed the kidney mass had grown in size, but no one mentioned this to the patient. A different physician covering for the ER doctor documented the recommendation to follow-up on the kidney mass, noting it was previously discussed with the patient. Ultimately, the original ER doctor signed the CT results. The patient claimed they were not informed about the...