Articles Posted in Misdiagnosing Cancer

Chasidy Plunkard, 40, experienced pelvic pain and irregular bleeding. After undergoing a transvaginal ultrasound and diagnosed as having a cyst in the right ovary, she was referred to an osteopath, Dr. Charles Marks, who did an endometrial biopsy.

The biopsy was interpreted as benign. Dr. Marks allegedly told Plunkard that absent abnormal bleeding, nothing more needed to be done for her.

However, nine months later, Plunkard sought treatment for what was described as widespread pain. She also presented to a hospital emergency room five months later, complaining of severe abdominal pain. Plunkard underwent laparoscopic surgery and was later advised that she suffered from metastatic cancer.
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Lonnie Kersey had a family history of prostate cancer. He took Avodart to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia. His treating internist, Dr. Michael Pisano, allegedly ordered lab work in 2012 and 2014, including a prostate-specific antigen test (PSA).

The following year, Dr. Pisano allegedly ordered another PSA, which showed a value of 3.0 ng/mL, nearly triple the previous results.

Dr. Pisano ordered further testing two years later, at which point Kersey’s PSA was significantly elevated at 203.3 ng/mL. This led to a biopsy and diagnosis of Stage IV prostate cancer.
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Ms. Doe, 48, was admitted to a hospital where blood work showed several severe abnormalities. Nonetheless, Dr. Roe, the hospitalist overseeing Ms. Doe’s care, discharged her. Ms. Doe’s condition worsened, and she returned to the hospital. She was diagnosed with leukemia and was then transferred to another hospital, where she was diagnosed with lymphoma.

Ms. Doe died two weeks after she first presented to the hospital. She was survived by her husband and five children.

The lawsuit against the hospitalist and others alleged medical negligence and wrongful death. The Doe family claimed that the hospitalist should not have discharged Ms. Doe in light of her abnormal blood work. It was also alleged that the defendant chose not to provide the correct diagnosis of lymphoma. Lymphoma was the cause of death listed on Ms. Doe’s death certificate.
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Doe, 21, experienced right testicle pain. He went to his local hospital emergency room complaining of persistent pain. An ultrasound showed a hematoma or neoplasm. Doe was referred to a urologist who allegedly told him that he likely had a hematoma and that it would take a long time to heal.

The following month, Doe went to a family practice doctor complaining of swelling in his right breast. Doe told the doctor about his testicle injury weeks earlier and said that his condition had improved. Doe’s testicle pain and swelling persisted after the appointment with the family practice physician. Doe again consulted the same doctor; he ordered an ultrasound and performed a testicle exam. Doe was referred to a urologist.

Before Doe was able to meet with the urologist, he experienced severe pain and went to a hospital emergency room. The urologist who saw Doe that day scheduled him for surgery to treat testicle trauma.
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Gerald Culhane went to his primary care physician at Buffalo Veterans Administration Medical Center, complaining of a lump in his neck over a three-month period. A CT scan was reviewed by a radiologist as being unremarkable. Culhane was told that he did not require a follow-up.

About a year and a half later, he called the Veteran’s Administration and reported that his neck lump was continuing to grow. Another CT scan led to a diagnosis of squamous cell carcinoma in the left tonsil, which required 40 rounds of radiation and 7 cycles of chemotherapy. The cancer recurred. Culhane later underwent a radical tonsillectomy and neck dissection.

Culhane and his wife sued the United States under the Federal Torts Claims Act (FTCA), alleging that the Veteran’s Administration Hospital chose not to timely diagnose squamous cell carcinoma. The Culhane family also alleged that a mass was obviously present when the first CT scan was done and that the scan was wrongly interpreted as negative.
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Doe, age 63, went to Dr. Roe, his primary care physician, for a physical examination. Dr. Roe ordered a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, which showed an abnormal result of 17.6 ng/mL.

The results prompted Dr. Roe to repeat the test that day, the second test, which resulted in a higher reading of 18.46 ng/mL.

Dr. Roe allegedly attributed the abnormal PSA values to Mr. Doe’s having to hold his urine for long periods of time while he was at work. At a follow-up appointment six months later, Dr. Roe ordered another PSA test; it showed a result of 43.15 ng/mL.
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Akimbee Burns, who was in her late 30s, underwent a pap smear at a federally operated health care center. The health center’s pap smear showed atypical squamous cells. Unfortunately, Burns’s treating physician did not tell her of the results. When Burns returned to the same health center to follow up on an unrelated issue, the doctor allegedly told her that her pap smear result was normal.

Approximately eight months later, Burns was diagnosed as having Stage IIB cervical cancer, which had spread to her lymph nodes.

Although Burns underwent radiation, chemotherapy and other treatments, she died within two years.
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Daniel Scavetta, who had a history of intravenous drug abuse, began seeing internist Dr. James Agresti. Dr. Agresti prescribed Suboxone. After a colonoscopy revealed multiple polyps, including one that was too large to remove, Scavetta was referred to a colorectal surgeon, Dr. Joel Nizen.

A CT scan showed a 1.9 cm lesion in Scavetta’s liver and an enlarged spleen. This prompted the interpreting radiologist to recommend that Scavetta undergo an MRI of his abdomen. Although Dr. Nizen performed surgery approximately two weeks later, he did not investigate the lesion.

Approximately 13 months later, Scavetta saw blood in his urine. The CT scan and MRI revealed a 4.2 cm liver mass. Scavetta was subsequently diagnosed with having Stage IV hepatocellular carcinoma.
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Doe, age 35, was hospitalized for treatment of pneumonia. Doe’s pneumonia cleared, but follow-up X-rays taken one month later and seven months after that showed a suspicious lesion on her lung. The radiologist interpreting the X-rays chose not to note or record the lesion.

Almost three years later, Ms. Doe underwent a CT scan, which formed the basis of a diagnosis of Stage IV inoperable non-small cell lung cancer.

The lawsuit alleged that the delayed diagnosis of lung cancer reduced Ms. Doe’s chances of survival from 85% to 10% in that the lesion measured 1 cm when first seen but had grown to 3.5 cm by the time she received the diagnosis.
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Thomas Lapsley went to a nearby hospital emergency room where doctors ordered a CT scan of his abdomen and pelvis. The scan revealed a lesion on his liver. A follow-up liver CT scan was ordered to rule out metastatic disease. There was nothing in the report as to the symptoms Lapsley might have experienced that prompted him to go to the emergency room.

After the CT scan, a surgeon, Dr. Ben Davis, did an exploratory laparotomy and repaired Lapsley’s gastric ulcer.

Over the next week, as Lapsley was admitted to the hospital, he did not undergo further evaluation of the liver mass and allegedly was not informed of the mass at his discharge. Eighteen months later, another doctor referred him for yet another CT scan. That scan led to a diagnosis of Stage IV metastatic cancer. Sadly, Lapsley died just one month later.
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