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27 year Doctor gave us wrong diagnosis based on his gut feeling instead of running correct tests. Sent my relative home to die.

2nd opinion wanted
Posts: 1
Joined: Nov 2010

My name is Beth and I want to share my story of the personal hell that I have just been through. My grandmother had bladder cancer 22 years ago and has had a ostomy bag attached to her ever since. Last Wednesday she started experiencing abdominal cramps. She could not keep food down. We immediately ran her to the emergency room. She is 85. They admitted her to E.R. and began tests to determine what was going on. The next day they ran a series to tests, from a C.T. to tests for ovarian cancer. They could not find anything. Later that day the doctor came in and told the family that there was a large mass in her intestine close to her ostomy bag. He told us that her cancer had returned and had taken over her small intestine. He drew a large picture of a body on a white board with magic marker. He drew the stomach, the intestines and in the middle he drew a large circle that said TUMOR. He told us that she had zero percent chance of surviving and that hospice needed to be called. He told us that himself and another Doctor had looked at the CT scan and had in their expert opinion believed that this tumor would spread to other organs immediately. He told my grandmother to embrace death and not be afraid. He brought in hospice, told us to prepare her for 4 days of hospice care until she would pass. He did offer an alternative. He said that against his better judgement there was a surgery he could do to see if the intestines could be removed. He told us that there was no hope with this surgery and that she might die on the table. If she did live, she would have to recover from the surgery and then go home with hospice. The family was in terrific pain and distress as what to do. We told grandmother that the decision to have surgery would be hers. The Doctor on four different occasions came into the room and voiced his displeasure with doing a surgery that had no beneficial outcome. My grandmother stuck by her guns and demanded the surgery. As she was being prepped for surgery ( 5 days after the initial diagnosis), I said goodbye, not knowing if I would see her again. She was in surgery for 3 hours when the Doctor summoned the family to the consultation room. His first words to us were, " Well, I guess that Betty will be pissing on my grave". He then said that his hunch about her cancer was wrong and that it was just a build up of scar tissue that was easily removed. He had failed to run a key test that would have detected the presence of an actual cancer. However, he was happy that he did not knick any major organs in her body and kill her. He never offered an apology as to the sheer hell that he put the family through. He begged us before the surgery to talk some common sense into her. He said that clearing his schedule for a Monday surgery ( a surgery that had no hope) was an inconvenience to him. He made us make horrible decisions about a healthy womans life. The family is torn. The family is now on edge and I fear that I have hit a severe depression about my guilt. He is now being very elusive around the family. We know he is nervous. I will talk to anyone about my story if you have any questions. Feel free to email me badam@embarqmail.com

Posts: 1862
Joined: Aug 2010

At the very least, you need to speak to the head of the oncology department and the hospital administrator. This behavior goes beyond appalling: it is very nearly criminal and the hospital, had your grandmother died in surgery and your family requested an autopsy, could have been very serious trouble.

I am sorry you went through this. I don't understand your feelings of guilt, however.

Your family should be gentle with itself - you have been through an extremely distressing time with, it would seem, most of it avoidable.

Pennymac02's picture
Posts: 336
Joined: Aug 2010

Your post and my mothers experiance is exactly why I don't put much faith in the MD's. My mom had an intestinal blockage and when they operated they said cancer, no hope. Then the tests came back negative for cancer and they said he ruptured gall bladder had caused the blockage. Then they operated a third time to remove another blockage and said cancer, no hope. All of this was over a 6 month period and caused enormous stress and anxiety for Mom and the family. When she passed in hospice last Christmas, we all felt guilty because we had encouraged her to have the multiple surgeries based on what the doctor had said. Mom was willing all along to wait and enjoy her remaining time with us without constant medical intervention. Hind site is indeed 20-20.

We filed complaints with state agencies regarding the lack of adequate testing and diagnosis against the hospital and the doctors, and they were investigated, but the findings basically came back as a big OOPs. I am so glad that your grandmother is going to be okay! This is one case where a misdiagnosis is a good thing. I am sorry that your family had to go through this, though. Just remember, you made decisions and felt the way you did because you were functioning the best you could with limited information. I don't think you have anything to feel guilty about.

grandmafay's picture
Posts: 1639
Joined: Aug 2009

I think I would file a complaint with the hospital administration and ask for an investigation. Then, I would find a new doctor for your grandmother and celebrate her much improved prognosis. Finally, I think it is important for us to recognize that even our trusted family physician make mistakes, and it is important to seek second and even third opinions. Fay

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