09 May 2007

What If You Don't Die?

Once upon a time, there was a 62-year old Englishman who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and was told by his doctors that he will die within a year.

Sad as it might have been, he took the bad news quite well --- he quit his job, he sold almost all his possessions, and spent most of his time enjoying the good life, dining out in restaurants, and going on vacations.

One day, he got information from his doctors that what he had was merely a non-fatal "inflammation of the pancreas." He was not dying. He was actually going to live a long time. It was a wrong diagnosis.

'Problem is, by that time, he was almost bankrupt from all his wanton spending, and he is now about to lose his house. He quit paying his mortgage when he knew he was going to die.

Today, he is complaining. He plans to sue the hospital for giving him the wrong diagnosis and making him lose all his money enjoying the life he thought he was about to lose. You can read his full story here.

Any lessons to learn here?

What would you do IF you find out you only got months or a year to live? Was the man wrong in enjoying what he thought were his "last days" here on Earth?

More importantly, do you agree he should sue his doctors and the hospital for the wrong diagnosis, and consequent bankruptcy?

13 reactions:

rolly said...

Hmmm, that is a good qusstion! I think I will try to make my life more meaningful during the last few days. I think I have enjoyed what life has to offer so I think my next move would be to ensure that I shall be remembered for a long time even if I am gone.

Given the situation, I might be tempted to sue but then I should also think that whatever the consequences are had been the product of my choice.

Ed said...

Can't the hospital just kill him? That way it's all for the best and everyone's happy!

Duke said...

didn't he get a second opinion?

Normally. people who get diagnosed with only a few months to live would like to have a second or even third opinion just to make sure, right?

bayi said...

Excellent question, duke. I would want a second opinion if my doctor says I am going to die.

If it is confirmed that my condition is terminal, then I would make immediate plans but not for wanton spending. There are many ways to experience various aspects of life without having to spend as if there is no tomorrow (not a very appropriate pun here, I know).

But the immediate point in this case is now that it has happened, what recourse does he have. I am not legally trained but I do think he has the right to sue the doctor and the hospital too for its vicarious liability. But the court may not be overly sympathetic with a person who spends wantonly. The patient may have to bear part of the responsibility, especially if he failed to get a second opinion. The doctor meant well and it is always wise to get a second opinion.

We don't have to resort to shooting the messenger!

bingskee said...

what would you do IF you have months or a year to live? tough question. for me, even if i had what everybody wants in life before i receive the news, it would still be hard but would eventually learn to accept. i would still do the usual things i do - work, be a mother, be a wife, be a friend. but with all the extra effort in it.

i think the hospital is only liable because of the wrong diagnosis not to what had happened to his life. it was his decision to spend unwisely and not pay his obligations.

may said...

there is no safe ground for the doctors. they tell people that they are dying, people get upset. now, they tell people that they are not dying, people also get upset. what in the world are they supposed to do? :)

JO said...

I have kids, so NO - I wouldn't spend my money on myself if I have a few months to live. I will make sure that I will leave my kids adequate funds for their future.

And yes, I think he should sue the doctor for the wrong diagnosis. There has been too many malpractice already that goes unpunished in the Philippines. It's about time that these unfit doctors lose their license to practice medicine.

Just blog hopping from Shai.

timelessboulevard said...

Just dropping you a "hello" Doc Emer! :-)

Major Tom said...

This is certainly a test case if it happens in our jurisdiction. To be sure , the man has all the causes to initiate a civil action because professional negligence is present in this situation.

However, the amount of damages may be a more complicated affair for he could not easily aver to regain all his spendings because that was of his own device.

However, lost probable income and exemplary damages for anxiety and worries caused is almost a sute thing here.

BongK said...

i thought the man did just right.. sino ba naman ang gusto magpakalugmok sa kalungkutan when you know you have only less time to live, yun nga lang mahaba pa pala ang buhay nya hehehehehe

hello doc...

Anonymous said...

This is one of those cases which make me think we really need some kind of "alternative" safety net... because no, the hospital should not be held responsible, but on the other hand, neither should the man in question be left to poverty and bankrupcy when his response to the medical diagnosis was fairly reasonable.

BabyPink said...

if i knew that i'm to die in 6 months or in one year, i'd probably do things that i've always wanted to do, but never did. i'd also spend as much time as i can with loved-ones.

now, that man, i think we can't blame him for reacting that way and dong what he did when he found out he was dying. he probably just wanted to live life to the fullest.

but, i don't agree that he should sue the doctors. instead of wasting time trying to bring down the doctors, i think it'd be better if he just spent time improving his life. after all, it'd feel like he was given a second chance at lfe, 'di ba?:)

bayi said...

When some beauty contestants were asked, "If you could live forever, would you and why?"

Here is the answer from Miss Alabama in the 1994 Miss USA contest. "I would not liv forever, because we should not live forever, because, if we were supposed to live forever, then we would live forever, which is why I would not live forever."

Very enlightening, isn't it?