Refinery worker blames company doc for missing signs of cancer

David Yates Apr. 30, 2008, 2:00pm

A Huntsman Petrochemical employee is suing the company doctor, claiming the physician ignored warning signs of his enlarging prostate.

Now suffering from cancer, David K. Ray alleges Dr. Lawrence W. Sanders could have helped to halt the disease before it spread, if only he had "recognized the dangers associated with increasing PSA levels."

The suit was filed April 29 in the Jefferson County District Court.

According to Ray's petition, during his employment with Huntsman he underwent yearly physicals, many of which were provided by Dr. Sanders. As part of the physicals, Ray submitted to diagnostic testing of his blood, including testing for his PSA levels.

The Prostate Cancer Foundation defines PSA, or prostate specific antigen, as a protein produced by the prostate and released in very small amounts into the bloodstream. When there's a problem with the prostate, such as when prostate cancer develops and grows, more and more PSA is released, until it reaches a level where it can be easily detected in the blood.

From 1998 through 2005, Ray's PSA levels ranged from 1.3 to 1.7. However, in February 2006,
Dr. Sanderson performed another physical on Ray and noted his PSA level was 3.0 - more than double the 2005 level, the suit states.

"Despite this alarming increase in Ray's PSA level, Dr. Sanderson failed to take any further action related to his PSA results," the suit says. "In fact, Dr. Sanderson misled Ray by ultimately stating to him that the two-fold increase was 'normal.'"

In June of 2007, Ray was diagnosed with an enlarged prostate and his PSA level was 66.4. He was referred to MD Anderson and learned he had prostatic adenocarcinoma. Since then, Ray has undergone aggressive cancer treatment "and continues to suffer problems as a result of his cancer," the suit says.

"Dr. Sanders failed to exercise the ordinary care and diligence exercised by other medical providers in the same or similar circumstances, and was negligent � for failing to recognize the danger signs associated with the significant increase in Plaintiff's PSA levels," the suit says.

Ray is suing for past and future medical expenses, pain, mental anguish, impairment and disfigurement, plus all court related costs.

He is represented by attorney Giles Kibbe of the Weller, Green, Toups & Terrell law firm.

Judge Gary Sanderson, 60th Judicial District, has been assigned to the case.

Case No. B181-681

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