Articles Posted in Misdiagnosing Cancer

Ms. Doe, age 37, developed shortness of breath eight days after giving birth. A CT angiogram to rule out a pulmonary embolism revealed an enlarged right-sided axillary lymph node. Despite this finding, Ms. Doe’s healthcare providers ordered no further follow up. Over a year later, Ms. Doe discovered a lump in her right breast.

Testing of the lump by biopsy of the breast mass and lymph node led to a diagnosis of metastatic Stage IV breast cancer with lung involvement.

Ms. Doe is the mother of three children and a food service worker earning just minimum wage. Sadly, Ms. Doe’s condition at Stage IV is terminal.
Continue reading

In 2011, a radiologist with the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) missed identifying a cancerous mass in the liver of James Avery Deweese. Before the mass was finally diagnosed as cancerous in 2013, it had nearly doubled in size. Deweese died shortly thereafter.

The family of Deweese — through an administrator of his estate — brought a survival and wrongful-death claim against the United States pursuant to the Federal Torts Claims Act (FTCA). 28 U.S.C. ¶1346(b)(1).

The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment for the government holding that although the VA failed to deliver the standard of care in correctly diagnosing and treating Deweese’s cancer, the evidence presented by the Deweese family was insufficient to raise a triable issue of fact as to whether the VA’s negligence proximately caused the plaintiff’s damages and subsequent death.
Continue reading

A neuropathologist, Dr. Meena Gujrati, and her employer, Central Illinois Pathology, were named as defendants in a medical-malpractice lawsuit brought by Rebecca Gapinski who alleged that this doctor misdiagnosed Daniel Gapinski’s brain tumor as being benign.

Right before the start of the jury trial, Dr. Gujrati requested permission to proceed with a substitution of counsel. The attorneys for the Gapinski family objected, arguing that the motion was tardy because the case had been pending for three years. However, the Gapinski family accepted a compromise, and the trial judge ruled that the defendants could have separate counsel, separate pleadings and separate experts if they were otherwise barred from double-teaming at trial.

The verdict for Gapinski was $1,727,409. On appeal, Dr. Gujrati and Central Illinois Pathology argued, among other things, that the judge erred in barring “dual representation.”
Continue reading

Mary and Terry Cohan filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against Medical Imaging Consultants claiming that the company and its medical providers were negligent in the treatment that caused Mary’s breast cancer to progress undiagnosed for one year. It was alleged that the delay in diagnosis led to her suffering damages from a shortened life expectancy and physical and mental suffering.

The medical defendants moved for a directed verdict at the end of the Cohan case at the jury trial on the basis that plaintiffs failed to make a prima facie case of causation and damages against the defendant. The elements of a medical negligence claim, like all negligence claims are: duty, breach of duty, causation and damages.

The district court judge granted the defendants’ motion, concluding that there was no sufficient proof of damage or causation other than the loss of chance of a lower rate of non-recurrence of cancer, which did not constitute a proper measure of damage at the time.
Continue reading

Sean Pedley was 43 when he developed a lump in his left thigh. An internist, Dr. Syed Danish, ordered an x-ray that did not signify or later lead to a diagnosis. Pedley’s mass grew and became painful over the next two years.

When a later biopsy of the mass was analyzed, it showed that it was synovial sarcoma, a soft-tissue cancer.

By the time the correct diagnosis was made, the soft-tissue cancer had metastasized to Pedley’s spine.
Continue reading

Gerald Teeuwen, 77, developed a persistent cough. He went to an urgent care facility and later underwent a chest x-ray, which was interpreted as showing a density in his left lung. Teeuwen was referred to a pulmonologist, Dr. Peter Birk.

Dr. Birk ordered a second chest x-ray, which radiologist Dr. Jack Lowdon read as normal. Dr. Lowdon did not compare the two films, which had not been provided to him. The following year, Teeuwen was diagnosed as having Stage IV lung cancer with metastasis to his brain and bones. He was unable to tolerate his chemotherapy and brain radiotherapy treatments. Teeuwen died of lung cancer four months later. He was survived by his wife and two adult children.

Teeuwen’s wife, on behalf of his estate and family, sued Drs. Birk and Lowdon alleging their negligence in choosing not to timely diagnose lung cancer. The Teeuwen family alleged that both physicians should have reviewed the first chest x-ray and that Dr. Lowdon had misread the second study. If Teeuwen would have received an earlier diagnosis, the family and the estate argued, he would have had a chance for cure and survival.
Continue reading

A lawsuit has been filed under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) in a Louisiana federal court. The lawsuit claims that the patient, Lucille Bruno, died because a federally funded clinic ignored signs of breast cancer that led to her death. The lawsuit seeks $5 million in damages.

The surviving children and husband of Lucille Bruno have alleged that Southwest Primary Healthcare and its nurse practitioner who examined Bruno chose not to properly react to what is claimed as signs and symptoms of breast cancer. Southwest Primary Healthcare is a federally funded clinic, which means the U.S. government is a defendant in this case along with the nurse practitioner, Debbie Vidrine.

In September 2013, Bruno first went to an emergency room in Louisiana. She was complaining of breast pain and told the doctors of a lump in her breast. The hospital, which is not a party to this lawsuit, sent her on her way with instructions to follow up with another primary care physician should her symptoms continue.
Continue reading

This case involved a medical malpractice action for a lost chance. The parties jointly sought direct discretionary review under Washington law, RAP 2.3(b)(4), challenging two pretrial rulings:

(1) whether a court should use a “but for” or “substantial factor” standard of causation in loss of chance cases; and (2) whether evidence relating to a contributory negligence defense should be excluded based on the plaintiff’s failure to follow his doctor’s instructions.

The trial court decided that the “but for” standard applies and the contributory negligence defense was not appropriate in this case. “Traditional tort causation principles guide a loss of chance case.” Applying those established principles, under the circumstances here, the Supreme Court concluded a “but for” cause analysis was appropriate and affirmed the trial court’s ruling on that issue. The court reversed the trial court’s partial summary judgment dismissing the contributory negligence defense. The case was remanded for further proceedings.
Continue reading

Janice Rowland, 59, underwent a Pap smear that was interpreted as normal. Two and half years later, she developed post-menopausal bleeding and pelvic pain. She then underwent a cervical biopsy. The biopsy led to a diagnosis of metastatic cervical cancer, and she died several months later. Rowland was survived by her husband.

On behalf of her estate, her husband sued Quest Diagnostics, which was the company that misread the Pap smear. It was alleged in the lawsuit that its cytotechnologist misinterpreted the Pap smear slides. If read correctly, the slide would have showed evidence of cancer and necessitated review by a pathologist. The lawsuit did not claim lost income.

The jury signed a verdict for $4 million. However, it was reported that post-trial motions are pending.
Continue reading

Mr. Doe, age 48, was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He underwent laparoscopic bilateral lymph node dissection surgery by two HMO urologists. During this surgery, the obturator nerve was severed, which left Mr. Doe unable to control his right leg. He was unable to continue in his job as a grounds maintenance worker. He has lost $5,000 in income. He now works at a less strenuous job for the same salary.

Mr. Doe sued the HMO claiming its urologists negligently performed the laparoscopy. The lawsuit specifically claimed that the doctors chose not isolate and protect the nerve while trying to remove the lymph node packet and chose not reattach the nerve after it was transected.

The defendants argued that the injury to the obturator nerve is rare.  They also maintained that severing that nerve is a known complication of this surgery. Before trial, the parties settled confidentially.

Continue reading