In lawsuit answer, doctor counters patient's claims that he hid plaintiff's Hepatitis C diagnosis

By Nicholas Malfitano | Jan 31, 2019

PHILADELPHIA – A Philadelphia physician has denied negligence-related charges from a patient who alleged he was left uninformed of a positive Hepatitis C diagnosis for seven years, which the plaintiff said later caused him permanent damage to his liver and kidneys.

In an answer filed Jan 9. Ramesh Parchuri, M.D. wholly denied plaintiff Bartolo Ortiz’s allegations and countered that his lawsuit failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted and was barred by a number of avenues, including the doctrines of contributory negligence and assumption of risk, collateral estoppel and res judicata, the provisions of the MCARE Act, the applicable statute of limitations, a failure to mitigate damages, a lack of any real injuries sustained, in addition to other affirmative defenses.

On Jan. 17, Ortiz replied to the defense’s new matter, denying it in its entirety as conclusions of law which requires no actual response.

Ortiz, of Philadelphia, first filed suit in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas on Oct. 24 versus Parchuri.

Ortiz was a patient of Parchuri’s dating back to 2006, having regular check-ups, blood work and visits for minor ailments. During a blood test in April 2009, it was learned Ortiz’s blood was reactive for Hepatitis C antibodies, the suit says. However, he says he was not given any referrals for additional testing, referrals for other treatment, any treatment at all or information relating to Hepatitis C following that blood test.

And so it went for the next seven years, according to the lawsuit.

Then, in 2016, Ortiz was seen twice by Parchuri in March of that year, complaining of abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and distension, the suit says. During subsequent follow-up visits in May and July 2016, Ortiz remained unaware of his diagnosis, the suit said.

During that time, the suit indicated his untreated Hepatitis C silently wreaked havoc on his body – causing him both kidney and liver damage, confirmed when Ortiz consulted a different physician at Clinical Nephrology Associates in the summer of 2016.

“Plaintiff was diagnosed with Hepatitis C-related cirrhosis in August 2016. Plaintiff did not know prior to August 2016 that he had cirrhosis secondary to untreated Hepatitis C. On Aug. 26, 2016, plaintiff was seen at Temple Health, where his diagnoses included cirrhosis, chronic kidney disease, Hepatitis C virus, hematuria and hypertension,” the suit stated.

“On Sept. 22, 2016, plaintiff was seen at Albert Einstein Medical Center, Department of Hepatology, where it was noted that he had a “history” of Hepatitis C that was untreated and that he was listed for a simultaneous liver and kidney transplant (SLKT). Plaintiff’s condition was described as “decompensated liver disease 2/2 liver cirrhosis in setting of Chr Hep C” at the Sept. 22, 2016 visit.”

Ortiz was hospitalized at Albert Einstein Medical Center from Nov. 9 through Nov. 15, 2016, undergoing both a liver transplant secondary to HCV cirrhosis and a kidney transplant for chronic kidney disease during that time, the suit said.

Ortiz claims Parchuri’s substantive negligence over a seven-year period in failing to properly and/or thoroughly discuss, disclose, document, educate or inform plaintiff regarding his Hepatitis C condition led to his subsequent medical difficulties, surgeries and decreased quality of life.

For negligence, the plaintiff is seeking compensatory damages in excess of $50,000.

The plaintiff is represented by Leonard K. Hill and Susan B. Ayres of Hill & Associates, in Philadelphia.

The defendant is represented by Michael O. Pitt and Jared M. Teich of O’Brien & Ryan, in Plymouth Meeting.

Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas case 180701489

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at nick.malfitano@therecordinc.com

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