Failure to Refer, Order Testing for Unexplained Anemia Prompts $3.1M Award

July 23, 2018 | Strategic Insights for Ambulatory Care


​A New Jersey jury awarded $3.1 million in a malpractice case alleging that a primary care physician negligently failed to refer a patient to a specialist or order sufficient diagnostic testing to ascertain the cause of the patient's severe anemia, according to a report from the June 2018 Medical Malpractice Verdicts, Settlements & Experts (subscription required). In May 2013, the patient began consulting his primary care physician, meeting with him four times in two months. The physician ordered bloodwork at least twice, which showed the patient was highly anemic. At their last appointment in June 2013, the physician provided iron pills to the patient and told him to return in a week. The patient did not return to the office. In November 2013, the patient collapsed. The next day, he visited a hospital where physicians found him anemic and ordered an endoscopy, which showed that the patient had a gastrointestinal stromal tumor in his stomach that had spread to his liver. The patient underwent surgery and chemotherapy. Roughly two and a half years after he collapsed, the 43-year-old patient died from complications from the cancer. His sister brought a lawsuit against the family physician and his practice. The plaintiff claimed that the provider deviated from the standard of care in failing to refer the patient to a gastroenterologist immediately after receiving the bloodwork results.

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