failure to diagnose prostate cancer
Brian Wraxall and Joan Wraxall v. Family Doctor Medical Group et al
Contra Costa County Superior Court
Plaintiff Brian Wraxall, a nationally recognized forensic DNA expert, had a routine Prostate Specific Antigen(PSA) test ordered by his personal physician, Eric Swann, MD, an employee and shareholder of Family Doctors Medical Group, Inc. Despite an elevated PSA, Dr. Swann failed to diagnose and treat prostate cancer. Plaintiff believed his PSA was normal. During the litigation, it became apparent that Dr. Swann had never seen the PSA result, purportedly because it had not been delivered to him by staff. Dr. Swann had not initialed the result, as required.
Plaintiffs brought various claims including one for direct negligence against Family Doctor Medical Group arising from its failure to properly educate staff and enforce policies designed to insure that blood tests would not be lost and to insist that Dr. Swann meet minimum standards.
The direct negligence claim was crucial to the ultimate resolution of this case. Relying on Lathrop v. Healthcare Partners Medical Group, plaintiffs argued that because Family Doctor Medical Group was unlicensed, it was not entitled to the protection of the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act(MICRA) for the consequences of its direct negligence. Under MICRA, a claim for general damages is limited to $250,000 Without the benefit of MICRA, there is no limitation.
The Lathrop case, which had been tried in San Francisco by plaintiffs' counsel, had resulted in a $2.7 million verdict. One of the defendants appealed. The Court of Appeal held that an unlicensed medical group is not a healthcare provider under MICRA and, to the extent that an unlicensed medical group is found directly liable for plaintiff's injuries, MICRA does not apply.
Resolution: In November 2009, the case was mediated with Daniel J. Kelly, Esq. and resolved for a confidential sum.