Oct 9

Medical Malpractice Update: The Delta Medix Case

Medical Malpractice - Delta Medix Case

Posted on October 9, 2015 — by Tom Foley III

A judge’s gavel sitting alongside a stethoscope, symbolizing medical malpracticePersonal injury attorney Thomas J. Foley, Jr. of the Foley Law Firm has filed a medical malpractice lawsuit on behalf of Kathleen Astleford against Delta Medix and Dr. Andrew Turrisi. In addition to other damages, the lawsuit seeks damages in excess of $100,000 against Delta Medix and in excess of $50,000 against Dr. Turrisi due to medical errors committed by Dr. Turrisi and the recommendation of a course of treatment that he allegedly knew would be dangerous to Ms. Astleford.

As the latest medical malpractice case to be handled by the storied Pennsylvania law firm, the Delta Medix case epitomizes the Foley Law Firm’s eagerness to stand up to even the most powerful entities in asserting the rights of its injured clients. We invite you to check back in with this blog regularly for updates on the Delta Medix case. If you or someone you love has been harmed by the negligence of a medical professional, or if you have lost a member of your family due to such negligence, please contact the Foley Law Firm today.

Mistreatment of Right Tonsil Squamous Cell Carcinoma

On February 5, 2015, Ms. Astleford was referred by her family physician to Dr. Keith Pritchyk, the ear, nose, and throat specialist at Delta Medix, for the evaluation of her throat. Dr. Pritchyk performed a biopsy of Ms. Astleford’s right tonsil on February 9, which led to a subsequent diagnosis of squamous cell carcinoma.

Dr. Pritchyk referred Ms. Astleford to Dr. Turrisi, who conducted a radiation oncology consultation for the management of the squamous cell carcinoma. During the appointment, he incorrectly noted a diagnosis of oropharynx cancer in the left posterior tonsillar pillar extending onto the soft palate rather than on the right posterior tonsillar pillar. Nevertheless, Dr. Turrisi recommended that she undergo 35 radiation therapy treatments, the maximum dosage that could safely be administered, after which she would be cancer free. He referred her to dental and medical oncology specialists to confirm that radiation therapy was the proper course of action.

Beginning on April 6, 2015, Ms. Astleford began undergoing radiation therapy. Despite numerous references to “right tonsil cancer” in her records, Dr. Turrisi acted on his incorrect noted diagnosis of left tonsil cancer and directed the staff to apply radiation accordingly. Ms. Astleford wore a long shoulder mask that prevented her from observing what was occurring during treatments.

However, on April 27, 2015, after her 16th radiation treatment, Ms. Astleford asked Dr. Turrisi why the left side of her neck was red and she had sores on the left side of her mouth and tongue. Dr. Turrisi responded that “everything looks good.” A similar exchange occurred after the 22nd radiation treatment was administered on May 4, 2015.

Finally, on May 12, 2015, Dr. Turrisi - one day after once again reassuring Ms. Astleford that everything “was normal” and looking “good” - called Ms. Astleford into his office and admitted that he had made a mistake. His proposal for remedying the error was to perform 17 additional radiation treatments on the left tonsil free of charge while also covering her transportation costs. He recommended the 17 radiation treatments knowing that this would bring her total number of radiation treatments to 43, an amount that would put her parotid gland, oral cavity, and spinal cord at increased risk of severe harm.

Dr. Turrisi knew of this risk, but did not inform Ms. Astleford. Instead, he sent her a letter, which she received on May 21, 2015. In this letter, Dr. Turrisi claims that the 17 radiation treatments can be completed “safely” and that it would not be in her best interest to pursue “other options at this time.” He further stated that, by undergoing treatment with him, “your chance for disease control without adverse effects…would have been minimal.”

In attempting to dissuade Ms. Astleford from pursuing litigation, Dr. Turrisi made himself even more vulnerable to a medical malpractice claim.

Learn More about Medical Malpractice Claims

If you would like to schedule an evaluation of your own medical malpractice claim, please contact the Foley Law Firm today.

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