While perhaps miles away from you, one man’s medical malpractice case in Maine serves as a cautionary tale for both doctors and patients alike on how to give and receive care. Furthermore, it prompts an important discussion on what to do if you are in fact receiving the comprehensive care that you deserve.
Michael Whittier’s harrowing medical malpractice case began in 2016 when a physician at Mechanic Falls examined Whittier and noted that he was suffering from an enlarged prostate. To verify what his physician had suspected, Whittier underwent further laboratory testing at another hospital. The results from that visit noted that Whittier’s levels were higher than normal, thus indicating an increased risk for prostate cancer. It should be noted that at this point, CMMC failed to notify Whittier of his test results once they were received, nor did they even advise Whittier to seek further testing, nor did they refer him to a urologist. Believing everything was normal, Whittier continued on for more than a year, not pursuing any further treatment other than his annual physical. At this appointment, his regular physician noted in his records that Whittier had an enlarged prostate and would need further lab work. Once again, that information was never communicated to Whittier, leading him to believe that his PSA levels were completely normal, with no further care needed. Eventually, the Mechanic Falls clinic where Whittier had been receiving care closed down and Whittier and his records were transferred to another location in Auburn. During this time, CMMC also changed the way they electronically filed medical records. Due to this transition, Whittier’s lab records were misplaced, meaning his doctors did not have full access to the information needed to treat Whittier.
Without knowledge of his condition, Whittier continued to receive regular care from CMMC until 2020 when an out-of-state doctor notified Whittier of his elevated PSA levels. It was only after meeting with another CMMC doctor to discuss these results that Whittier finally received a urologist referral, four years after the issue was originally noted. Whittier’s urologist diagnosed him with prostate cancer and Whittier underwent surgery to remove his prostate. At that point though, the cancer had spread well beyond his prostate, thus rendering the cancer inoperable. After receiving this news, Whittier and his wife moved forward with a case against the doctors and hospital that repeatedly failed to provide him with adequate care. The justice system prevailed and the jury sided with Whittier and his wife, awarding them a generous settlement.
To be sure, Michael Whitter’s case offers an all important reminder to both patients and medical practitioners. For patients, it highlights just how important self-advocacy and second opinions are within our modern healthcare system. Whittier’s case also serves as a warning for all physicians to be personally accountable for the care of each of their patients, never failing in vigilance, recognizing that the choices they make impact not just the health of their patient, but oftentimes, their very lives.
Our hope is that by reading this article you understand the severity of medical malpractice and how it can affect you and your loved ones. If you believe you or someone you know has been affected by medical malpractice, or simply have questions concerning the exact grounds for filing a medical malpractice claim, please do not hesitate to contact our team of experienced medical malpractice attorneys. Regardless of where you might be with your case, our attorneys are prepared to meet with you, offering both free consultations and free case evaluations.