Representative cases: Failure to diagnose cancer and medical malpractice
At the Law Offices of Sean M. Cleary, we have represented clients in misdiagnosis of cancer cases, including brain, lung, lymphatic, testicular cancer and many others. In cancer diagnosis cases it’s very important that the cancer is diagnosed as early as possible because it progresses in stages. Because the doctor or the hospital did not diagnose the patient on time, years or sometimes months went by before our clients realized they were sick. There are over 200 types of cancer out of which 50 are aggressive if they are misdiagnosed, with delayed diagnosis errors most common in lung, breast and colorectal cancer.
Bladder Cancer Misdiagnosis Case
The urologist examined a patient complaining of blood in his urine and decided to perform a cystoscopy, to examine the interior of the bladder and ureter. The urologist found a tumor in the bladder, burned it, but failed to obtain muscle in the biopsies. Two years later, after seeing a large bladder tumor during a repeat cystoscopy, the urologist finally took a biopsy specimen that contained muscle. This biopsy revealed that the patient’s bladder cancer had in fact invaded the muscle wall and metastasized. As a result, the patient had to have his bladder removed. Tragically, however, by the time he filed suit, it was found that his bladder cancer had already spread through the bladder prior to its removal, into his lymph nodes, metastasized into bone cancer, and caused the patient's death.
Brain Tumor Misdiagnosis Case
A teenage boy entering puberty saw his pediatrician for excessive thirst, wakeful nights, headache, vomiting, throat and abdominal pain, the retarded maturity of his male genitals, and excessive weight gain without corresponding growth in height. The pediatrician failed to perform an indicated fasting blood sugar test, made no referral, and ignored clearly abnormal levels of Sodium, Chloride, Cholesterol, and LDH. After several frustrating visits to the pediatrician, the teen’s mother self-referred to a pediatric gastroenterologist who ruled out abdominal/gastric causes and initiated testing that confirmed brain cancer. Radiation resolved the tumor but left the teen with retarded growth, male breasts, and dependent upon growth hormones for life.
Breast Cancer Misdiagnosis Case
A woman only 34-years old complained to her obstetrician of two left breast lumps and left axilla pain. He examined her left breast and confirmed that lumps were present, but reassured her that she was too young for breast cancer. The obstetrician examined her on different occasions over the next four months noting the history of left breast lumps and pain but negligently and carelessly failed to order diagnostic studies, tests or consultations to exclude the possibility of breast cancer. Approximately one and a half year later, the patient contacted her family physician about her lumps, and he immediately and promptly referred her to a different obstetrician. For the next four months, the patient underwent chemotherapy cancer treatment and eventually underwent a double radical mastectomy with node dissection, which confirmed the presence of breast cancer in multiple locations as well as the metastatic disease to the lymph nodes. Unfortunately, the cancer was stage 4 when it was diagnosed and will probably recur.
Cervical Cancer Misdiagnosis Case
A 78-year-old diabetic woman was misdiagnosed with ovarian cancer and treated with neoadjuvant chemotherapy followed by radical hysterectomy and adjuvant radiotherapy. During laparotomy after chemotherapy, the misdiagnosis was discovered because she had a pelvic mass in upper part of the cervix that was fixed to the bladder. It was highly suspicious for cervical cancer, and frozen section evaluation confirmed that. Therefore, radical hysterectomy was done, and she received several courses of radiotherapy after surgery.
Colon Cancer Misdiagnosis Case
A patient went to see a doctor about rectal bleeding issues that had been going on for six months. The doctor misdiagnosed the case, had the patient treated for hemorrhoids, and never ordered a colonoscopy. Just more than two years later, the patient died from advanced colon cancer that had spread to his lungs.
Liver Cancer Misdiagnosis Case
A doctor’s failure to follow up on his own reports led to a late diagnosis of advanced stage liver cancer. The patient had several visits between 2007 when the malignancy was first spotted and 2011 and underwent several CT scans before receiving the diagnosis. The oncologist wrote that he intended to order another scan in, at most, a year, but failed to do so despite frequent return visits by the patient over the course of the ensuing three years. In 2011, the patient underwent a CT scan at another facility while being seen for a different medical condition, at which time, the liver tumor had grown enormously and was then diagnosed as advanced-stage liver cancer. The patient died from liver cancer a year after the diagnosis.
Lung Cancer Misdiagnosis Case
Our client complained of pain in the chest and went to see a doctor who diagnosed the symptoms as a common cold, didn’t do the x-rays and the necessary radiologic studies. Later, our client returned to the hospital not only with lung cancer but also with lymphatic cancer because cancer spreads from one area to other parts of the body. Diagnosing cancer early is critically important because if you don’t start the treatment regimen early, cancer spreads to different parts of the body quickly.
Lymphoma Misdiagnosis Case
A 50+-year-old woman found a golf-ball-sized lump on her torso. She contacted her family doctor, went to see him the next day, and he sent her to a surgeon who removed it that afternoon. Two weeks later, the surgeon called her with her lab results and told her she has a very rare cancer, a lymphoma. The oncologist was very discouraging, he sent her for blood work and a CT scan, both of which came back negative for any abnormalities. No sign of lymphoma. But he insisted that those were symptoms of lymphoma, and she needed to think about chemotherapy. She made an appointment with another oncologist, learned that the rare lymphoma had fewer than 100 cases reported in the previous decade and was told that even if she did have SPTCL, it would be better treated with radiation than chemo. After more tests, she was given the confirmation that, in fact, she had no cancer. The corrected diagnosis was for an inflammation of fat cells.
Prostate Cancer Misdiagnosis Case
A man in his 60s experienced a history of urinary difficulties. To rule out prostate cancer, the urologist performed a biopsy of the prostate gland and submitted the pathology materials to a medical corporation. A pathologist, employed by the medical corporation, examined the prostate tissue and prepared a pathology report denying the presence of cancer cells. Approximately two years later, the medical corporation became suspicious of the pathologist’s prostate slide results and had the slides re-read. It was not until a full two years later that the medical corporation advised the urologist that the prostate tissue biopsied two years earlier had been misread and misdiagnosed by their pathologist. Following this notice, the patient's prostate was again biopsied. Prostate cancer was confirmed and had progressed during the two-year delay caused by the negligence. After that, the patient underwent a radical excision of his prostate gland causing a dramatic change in his lifestyle and marriage.
Testicular Cancer Misdiagnosis Case
Our client went to see a doctor with symptoms of pain and discomfort in a testicle with no swelling, the doctor then misdiagnosed the condition, as a consequence of the delay in diagnosis, many months later our client's testicles had to be removed.