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Mid-March saw a naturopath for abdominal pain and bloating - Mid-July ER surgery to remove colon cancer tumor -- Med Mal suit?

Seattle, WA |

He sent me to get Ultra-Sound which came back negative. I continued to see him and tried all different things including fasting under his care. Condition got worse. Oncologist said US should never be used to detect Colon Cancer. Surgeon said he could have removed it laproscopically (sp?) with 1-2 days in the hospital instead of the 9 days I was there. Now facing 6 months Chemo. May not have needed it back in March. Is this a stretch of a case?

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Attorney answers 2

Posted

The law in the great State of Washington requires a Naturopathic Doctor (ND) to exercise the degree of care, skill, and learning expected of a reasonably prudent health care provider in the profession or class to which he belongs. (See RCW 7.70).
The State licenses ND's, but leaves their regulation mainly to themselves. There is quite a controversy about whether they are quacky charlatans or good healers.
To sue a health care provider, you need an expert witness to testify that the treating health care provider didn't perform in accordance with the applicable standard of care. It would probably be easy to find an MD to say your ND didn't do a good job, but another ND would probably disagree. There is quite a bit of theoretical disagreement and economic competition between the disciplines. It is unpredictable as to whether a judge would admit into evidence the testimony of an MD about an ND.
You should probably consult with an attorney as soon as possible to discuss the particular details of your circumstances.

[In accordance with the Avvo community guidelines, this communication does not constitute "legal advice", nor does it form an attorney-client relationship.]

Posted

A big issue in failure to diagnose cancer cases is causation. The plaintiff must prove that the delay made a difference to the outcome. Different states have different rules where the damage alleged is loss of a chance to cure. March to July is a five month delay. That's not a very long delay in diagnosis of colon cancer in terms of likely change in stage, treatment or ultimate outcome. You certainly should speak to one or more malpractice lawyers, because it seems likely that the naturopath was negligent. I suspect you are going to hear that your potential case has a causation problem.

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