Doctoral defendant dismissed from lung cancer malpractice case

By Nicholas Malfitano | Sep 4, 2015

Jeffrey P. Bates  

PHILADELPHIA – A doctor named as a defendant has been dismissed from a medical malpractice case filed against him, his practice and other physicians.

Per a motion from Jeffrey P. Bates on May 27 and a subsequent order of the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas on Sept. 1, Dr. William H. Burstein was dismissed as a defendant from the malpractice case filed by Philadelphia resident Joan Heim in January.

In a submitted Affidavit of Non-Involvement, Burstein argued that he did not personally treat Heim or provide her with any care, and thus should be dismissed from the suit. It was a rationale the Court found acceptable, and it granted the dismissal motion on Tuesday.

Through her suit, Heim alleged on Dec. 31, 2012, she sought medical treatment from Dr. Susan Meller for bronchitis symptoms, for which Meller ordered a chest x-ray to be taken.

Heim claimed that the radiologist that day suggested a follow-up chest radiograph be conducted in 6-8 weeks from that time, for “new focal consolidation in lower left lobe” and antibiotics for “likely pneumonia." According to Heim, Meller did not order any follow-up treatment.

The following month, Heim experienced sharp pain near her left breast and sought treatment at the Nazareth Hospital Emergency Room on Jan. 25, 2013. An examination there showed a “rounded opacity in the lower left lobe” and a lateral chest x-ray was ordered.

Copies of this report were sent to Dr. Ronald P. Rednor and Burstein, and the cardiology consult suggested a CAT scan be taken of Heim’s chest on Jan. 26, 2013.

A doctor named as a defendant has been dismissed from a medical malpractice case filed against him, his practice and other physicians.This follow-up was allegedly not ordered by Rednor or Burstein.

Rednor claimed sensitivities in Heim’s lung and spinal areas were due to prior back surgeries she had undergone and an implanted stimulator related to those surgeries, and requested no follow-up, the plaintiff claims.

On Aug. 21, 2013, Heim returned to see Meller due to worsening cough symptoms and Meller ordered a CAT scan of Heim’s chest taken on Aug. 28, 2013. That scan showed a mass 5.2 cm in size at the base of Heim’s left lung, along with a series of smaller nodules, the largest one being 1.8 cm in size, the plaintiff claims.

A subsequent PET/CT scan showed the presence of extensive lung cancer in Heim’s lower left lobe, an involved node in her left hilium, media stinum, base of the neck and super-clavicular region, the suit says.

Heim was diagnosed with Stage III-B non-small cell lung cancer, which she did not know she had contracted until Aug. 28, 2013. Heim’s lawsuit claimed negligence on the part of all defendants: Meller, Burstein Medical Associates Rednor and Nazareth Hospital. 

The plaintiff is seeking judgment in excess of $50,000 in this case.

The plaintiff is represented by Thomas M. Thistle III and Daniel T. Thistle, of Thistle Law in Philadelphia. 

The defendants are represented by Mark P. Merlini and Dawn Courtney Doherty of Marks O’Neill O’Brien Courtney in Philadelphia; Joseph G. Zack and Christy L. Williamson of Post & Post in Berwyn; John C. Farrell in Philadelphia; Jeffrey P. Bates and Laura J. Persun of Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin, in Philadelphia; and Kevin H. Wright of Kevin H. Wright & Associates in Lansdale.

Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas case 150100748

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at

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