Abnormal labs for years with no follow up?
(Kingsport, TN; formerly CT)
I just recently learned that almost every blood count that I've had has shown an elevated white blood cell count. Of the doctors I have seen, the practice where this first happened never followed up on it, though the word "leukocytosos" was written in what little of my medical record that they sent me (as they claim they cannot find the rest).
I was a patient of this practice - federally funded community based healthcare center - for more than a decade in multiple offices.
When I moved, I signed a release so they could forward my records to the new provider. (I don't have any of their notes yet.) As far as I know, this provider never did one CBC (complete blood count) on me even though the diagnosis of Leukocytosis should have been in the records they were sent.
I finally changed doctors as I felt the second ones weren't thorough enough, having seen how my current physician examined my daughter (who was a teen at the time). This doctor did an examination that was more complete than any other I've had in my adult life. Abnormal labs were noted, retested, followed up upon, and now I am scheduled to see a hematologist (blood doctor).
I believe that one of the other doctors over the 13-14, and 3 years of care respectively, should have looked into my health further and are negligent for not having done so.
I am on a prescribed medication which is known to have adverse effects on the liver, and I don't believe that the second provider I mentioned EVER ordered LFTs (liver function tests) as lab tests. I cannot confirm this as I have yet to receive those records.
My questions are, first off, what can I do about a doctor's office losing/discarding/misplacing my medical records? CT statute for keeping records is 7 years, and I last saw them in 2009. Secondly, what about non follow-up on abnormal labs? Do I have recourse now, or should I see what the "blood doctor" has to say? Thank you.
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ANSWER for "Abnormal labs for years with no follow up?":
Valerie (Kingsport, TN; formerly CT):
Whether or not you have legal recourse for civil damages will depend on whether the actions or omissions of the doctor, the lab, or both caused you any actual harm. If so, what actual harm did you sustain?
To have the basis of a legal action for your damages (including medical bills, your out of pocket expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering) you would have to prove the first doctor's actions or omissions, or his "negligence", caused or exacerbated your Leukocytosis. The same holds for the lab. To prove this will require medical evidence.
Because this type of civil action involves medical malpractice you must have legal representation. You cannot represent yourself in a medical malpractice case (no one should). You can be sure the doctor and the lab are heavily insured.
Doctors rarely, if ever admit to having committed medical malpractice. To do so could be injurious to their careers. You can expect a vigorous defense from the doctor's and the lab's attorneys.
The next issue is the statute of limitations. In Tennessee the statute of limitations is one year, while the statute of limitations for a medical malpractice case in Connecticut is two years.
Consult with a medical malpractice attorney in the State in which the malpractice occurred. On a more practical level you can file a complaint with the Connecticut or Tennessee State Medical Board.
The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.
Best of luck,
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