jury awards 167m after finding radiologist misdiagnosed lung cancer

When a person receives a cancer diagnosis, there understandably follows a multitude of very strong and very real emotions including fear, sadness and anger to name only a few. However, many people follow this up with a feeling of resolve, meaning they are ready to do everything in their power to fight and defeat the deadly disease.

The unfortunate reality, however, is that not everyone is given the opportunity to undertake this fight to the fullest extent possible due to misdiagnoses on the part of their treating physicians, a medical mistake that can have profound consequences.

Consider a recent case in another state, where a jury awarded close to $17 million to a woman who lost her mother due to a lung cancer misdiagnosis.

According to the complaint in the medical malpractice case, the mother reported to the emergency room of a highly regarded Boston-area hospital back in October 2006 to receive treatment for a bad cough.

The ER physician in charge of her care ordered a chest X-ray to make sure she didn’t have pneumonia. The radiologist named in the suit read the X-ray and made the determination that everything was fine. The woman was then discharged with antibiotics to treat an upper respiratory infection.

The complaint goes on to indicate that she returned to the same ER 13 months later still suffering from a severe respiratory condition. Here, a different ER physician ordered a CT scan, which ultimately showed that she had lung cancer.

Tragically, the lung cancer was advanced and she died within seven months of the diagnosis.

At trial, the attorney representing the deceased woman’s daughter presented definitive evidence showing that there was a 1.5-centimeter nodule located in the woman’s right lung that could be clearly seen on the chest X-ray taken in 2006, and that the CT scan later revealed that this nodule had nearly doubled in size and that more nodules were present.

For their part, the attorneys representing the radiologist have indicated that they will request a new trial, claiming that the attorney’s explanation of this medical evidence was inaccurate and the jury verdict of $16.7 million was unreasonable.

While it remains to be seen what will happen in this case, it is plain to see how a cancer misdiagnosis can prove to be so utterly devastating. When this happens, it’s important for patients or their family members here in Pennsylvania to consider speaking with an experienced legal professional to learn about how they may be able to seek justice for such a grievous wrong.

Source: The Boston Globe, “$16.7 million award in cancer lawsuit,” Yasmeen Abutaleb, June 30, 2014   

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