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Physicians cleared in man’s case against BHB

Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has declared the case “hopeless” for two defendants in a medical negligence lawsuit against the Bermuda Hospitals Board.

Raymond Santucci, a former security guard, took legal action against the BHB in 2020 after claiming that emergency room staff repeatedly failed to spot a life-threatening illness.

The BHB is named as the first defendant in the case while Hope Healthcare Ltd and physician Sotirios Kassapidis were named as the second and third defendants.

In an April 11 ruling, Chief Justice Larry Mussenden said that Mr Santucci brought the case against the two defendants “on spurious grounds because Dr Kassapidis declined to be his expert, a practice which cannot be supported by the court”.

Mr Justice Mussenden said the plaintiff’s case “shows no reasonable cause of action” against the two defendants “and is, in effect, a hopeless case”.

Mr Santucci had gone to King Edward VII Memorial Hospital in February and December 2019, and two other unknown dates, complaining of chest and shoulder pains on each occasion.

He was diagnosed with pneumonia each time and was discharged with instructions that he followed but which did not relieve his pains.

He further consulted doctors at Hope Healthcare, where Dr Kassapidis worked, and had a CT scan, which was reviewed by the doctor in February 2019.

Dr Kassapidis gave a diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease — COPD — instead of pneumonia.

Mr Santucci later travelled to England, and in May 2019 he was diagnosed as having COPD.

When he returned to Bermuda, he sought compensation from the BHB and consulted Dr Kassapidis for a report to confirm that the KEMH had misdiagnosed his ailment.

The doctor refused his request.

Mr Santucci consulted another doctor, Alice Turner, and in December 2021 she provided him with a report that he had COPD since July 2021.

Professor Turner provided a second report in January 2022 and said that she could not see, based on the scans, how KEMH could have been expected to give a diagnosis of COPD earlier.

Mr Santucci claimed that Professor Turner did not agree with Dr Kassapidis that he had COPD in February 2019.

However, Dr Kassapidis’s lawyer, Ben Adamson, said medical reports showed that this was incorrect.

Mr Santucci subsequently claimed that Hope Healthcare and Dr Kassapidis breached their duty of care owed to him.

In his ruling, Mr Justice Mussenden said: “In my view, on the face of it, once Dr Kassapidis declined to act as an expert to Mr Santucci, he then widened his target area to include them as defendants.”

He added: “I am satisfied that there was no duty on the part of Dr Kassapidis to act as an expert for Mr Santucci.”

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