In October, 2000, Susan Midler was referred by her gynecologist to Richard Crane, M.D., a rheumatologist. She had complaints of joint pain and he diagnosed her with arthritis after administering several diagnostic tests (including a urinalysis), two of which were positive for lupus erythematosis (an autoimmune disease that can affect vital organs).
Dr. Crane’s letter to the referring physician stated that continued monitoring was required to make a more definitive diagnosis as to lupus. He treated Ms. Midler for arthritis over the next two years but never again followed up with another urinalysis until January 2003 when he definitively diagnosed lupus nephritis (lupus affecting the kidneys). Ms. Midler’s kidneys rapidly failed, she underwent five months of three times a week dialysis (the process of cleansing the blood by passing it through a special machine) and then in December 2003 she underwent a kidney transplant.
A medical malpractice case followed and after a seven day trial in November 2006, a Manhattan jury concluded that the doctor had departed from good and accepted medical practice in the manner in which he monitored the plaintiff, including not performing urinalysis tests between October 2000 and January 2003.
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