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Medical Malpractice Leading to Death - $2.5 Million Settlement

Over a period of years, a 73 woman had been experiencing TIAs, also known as "mini-strokes" which would leave her with temporary paralysis. Eventually she suffered a more serious type of stroke that left her with permanent paralysis to one side of her body. She visited multiple doctors including a cardiologist, neurologist, and vascular surgeon to determine the cause of these strokes and many diagnostic tests were performed including CT scans and x-rays.

But despite symptoms consistent with a tumor, and despite a long family history of lung cancer, the doctors and radiologists failed to notice a tumor on the upper lobe of her lung. By the time that it was identified more than a year later, it had grown into a large Stage 3 squamous non-small cell lung cancer that had spread to her vertebrae and spinal cord. Just months later, this mother of three adult children passed away as a result of this aggressive cancer. After filing a lawsuit and after extensive negotiations with the insurance company for the medical providers, a large settlement in the amount of $2,500,000.00 was secured for her surviving family members.

About Failure to Diagnose Cancer Cases

A doctor’s failure to diagnose refers to circumstances in which sufficient indicia of a medical problem existed, whether apparent from the patient’s symptoms/complaints or as evident from various diagnostic tests performed. Also sometimes referred to as a “late diagnosis”, the condition or disease is eventually identified, but by that time, it is too late, or the stage of the illness is in a late, untreatable (or less treatable) stage.

Any disease or condition may give rise to a failure to diagnose lawsuit, but cancers are perhaps the most common. As in our settlement detailed above, errors involving lung cancer occur with some regularity and about 1 in 4 cancer deaths involve this disease. One issue that sometimes leads to medical diagnostic error is that patient symptoms (typically headache, wheezing, cough, shortness of breath) are sometimes mistaken for viral infections or other conditions, although diagnostic testing such as Low Dose Computed Tomography (LDCT) or a chest x-ray should disclose the presence of this cancer. Some other cancers that are sometimes the subject of a doctor’s failure to diagnose include:

  • Prostate Cancer: According to the National Cancer Institute, almost 12% of men will get diagnosed with this disease during their lifetime. Yet, symptoms such as trouble urinating, back pain and erectile problems are often confused by doctors with signs of aging.
  • Cervical Cancer: Although a woman may present symptoms such as vaginal bleeding or painful intercourse, this cancer may go unnoticed until later stages if the doctor fails to recognize the signs and order appropriate diagnostic testing such as a pap smear.
  • Colorectal Cancer: This disease may be missed due to a failure to perform the proper screening which is typically a colonoscopy. Sometime a sigmoidoscopy may be performed, but because it only views the lower colon, a cancer of the upper colon may be missed entirely.
  • Endometrial Cancer: Although highly curable if caught in its early stages, it can be missed if the physician fails to pay proper heed to the patient’s complaints, which often include pelvic pain, weight gain or unusual bleeding. Once diagnosed, it is usually confirmed with an endometrial biopsy or a transvaginal ultrasound.
  • Breast Cancer: Often found during a yearly mammogram or breast exam, abnormal results are usually confirmed by way of breast tissue biopsy or MRI. But doctors sometimes miss tumors in women with dense breasts and sometimes misread the radiological reports.
  • Skin Cancer: In contrast to many other cancers, a melanoma may have no discernable symptoms, other than visual clues. For that reason, it is vital that a physician take the time to carefully examine the skin, and if necessary, consult with a specialist or order a biopsy.

If you believe that you or a loved one has been injured because a doctor failed to diagnose a disease or illness, Sexner & Associates LLC can help. Call us at 800-996-4824 for a free consultation.

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