A recent Cook County jury verdict of $1.5 million was granted in a failure to diagnose breast cancer lawsuit. The Illinois medical malpractice case was brought against a family doctor by the surviving family of a 32 year-old woman who died from metastatic breast cancer in Estate of Lorraine Hollister v. Northwest Associates for Women’s Healthcare, P.C., et al., 05 L 8872. Hollister’s estate alleged that the family practice physician had elected not to run tests that would have diagnosed the breast cancer three months earlier and that this delay decreased the effectiveness of its subsequent treatment.
While three months is typically a very short time in terms of a failure to diagnose breast cancer lawsuit, there were some special circumstances in Hollister . For one, Hollister first complained of pain and discharge from her breast when she was seven months pregnant. During that visit the defendant, Dr. Wener, did not actually perform an examination of her breasts. Instead he simply told her that changes in her breasts were common during pregnancy. No further examinations of her breasts were done during any of her further prenatal visits and her breast cancer was not found until her 6 week postpartum visit.
Again, while three months is not typically a very long time in terms of failure to diagnose cancer lawsuits, the fact that Hollister was pregnant during this time period changes the situation. A typical person would not encounter their family physician more than one or two times during a three month period. However, pregnant woman have constant and regular communication and visits with their physicians. Therefore, the decedent’s estate was able to argue that Dr. Wener did not just miss an opportunity to diagnose Hollister’s breast cancer on one occasion, but missed her diagnosis on several subsequent visits.
Furthermore, the decedent’s form of breast cancer was perhaps the most aggressive form of breast cancer, a triple negative tumor. The decedent underwent chemotherapy, radiation, and a mastectomy. At trial, all parties agreed that the decedent would have eventually died from her breast cancer; the fact at issue was whether the delay in diagnosis diminished the effectiveness of her treatment. The decedent’s estate argued it did, while the defense argued that it did not. However, the jury must have sided with the decedent’s estate as it awarded $1.5 million to the decedent’s husband and two young sons.
Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Illinois failure to diagnose cancer lawsuits for over 30 years, serving those areas in and around Cook County, including Oak Park, Evergreen Park, Des Plaines, and Bolingbrook.
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