VERNON - A lawsuit accusing the Interior Health Authority and physicians of negligence for allegedly failing to notify a North Okanagan man of a cancerous mole continues to inch through the courts four years after it started.
Armstrong man Eric Nolting, a commercial pilot, first filed the lawsuit in 2012 after he went for a check-up and learned he was never told about the test results of a mole removed five years earlier, in 2007. The mole tested positive for malignant melanoma yet there was no follow up call, according to the notice of claim.
Nolting filed the lawsuit against the Interior Health Authority, Vernon Jubilee Hospital, the medical clinic, and the doctors in September 2012. He died of cancer on Dec. 4, 2012, at age 38, before his case could be heard.
But, according to court records, the case is still moving ahead, and lawyers say the trial is expected to occur next summer. Nolting’s wife is suing for loss of financial support, medical expenses, and loss of companionship. The couple had two young children together.
According to the notice of claim, Nolting went to a walk-in clinic in Vernon in 2007 for an irregular and bleeding mole in his armpit. He was told he should probably have the mole removed. Roughly two weeks later, he returned to the clinic and had the mole excised. He was told he would only be contacted if there were concerns with the test results.
The lawsuit alleges the results tested positive for malignant melanoma, and says the pathology report was reported as being copied to the medical clinic and the doctor.
“There was never any follow-up following the excision of the mole, and the deceased was never advised by any of the defendants of the diagnosis of cancer as set out in the pathology report,” states the notice of claim.
Some years later, in May of 2012, Nolting went to his family doctor complaining of night sweats, weight loss, and feeling slightly lethargic. After a number of tests, he was diagnosed with metastatic malignant melanoma.
The lawsuit accuses the health authority of failing to follow up on the 2007 pathology report, failing to have adequate policies for the monitoring, detection, diagnosis and reporting of medical tests, and failing to uphold the standard of care. It further accuses the medical clinic and the physician of failing to properly examine and diagnose Nolting.
A response to the notice of claim filed by the defendants in 2013 states the mole was sent for testing at Vernon Jubilee Hospital, and a report on the sample was entered into the hospital’s dictation system by the pathologist. According to the defendants, the medical clinic and the physician who removed the mole did not receive a copy of the pathology report. The response does not explain why the results were not received.
The defendants deny they were negligent and say all medical procedures were carried out appropriately and in accordance with standard medical practice.
On July 27, 2016 the parties were back in court and an application by the Interior Health Authority to file a third party notice against two new defendants was granted. The new defendants are doctors who were previously not named in the suit.
When contacted, the Interior Health Authority declined to comment on the case because it is currently before the courts.
Abigail Turner, with Harper Grey LLP, the law firm representing the medical clinic and two of the doctors, says the trial is expected to proceed in June 2017 but declined to comment any further.
Nevin Fishman, with Branch MacMaster LLP, the firm representing two of the physicians, did not provide a comment when contacted by iNFOnews.ca.
Efforts to reach all of the doctors directly were unsuccessful, however one of the physicians iNFOnews.ca spoke with commented that individuals are being pulled into the lawsuit who were never directly involved in what happened.
None of the allegations set out in the lawsuit have been proven in court.
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