Failure to Screen for Prostate Cancer: $2.84M Verdict
2016 Medical Malpractice Trial Report
Urologist decides elevated PSA is benign, fails to diagnose prostate cancer (Gleason 9)
In 2004, the decedent was seen by the defendant urologist for an elevated PSA of 5.8 (normal range is 0.0 to 4.0). A biopsy was ordered and promptly performed at that time. It was negative for prostate cancer. At his follow up appointment on 12/7/04, his PSA was normal at 3.9. His PSA levels remained stable for the next two years. However, on December 10, 2007, his PSA was 5.7. The defendant examined the decedent and decided that his PSA was similar to what it was in 2004 and did not order or offer a biopsy. Annual follow up of the PSA was his proposed treatment plan.
The decedent returned to the urologist’s office on April 7, 2008 due to the onset of urinary symptoms. At that visit, a physician’s assistant recognized the risk of prostate cancer, but was unable to order a biopsy without a physician ordering it. The PA consulted the defendant urologist, who again decided that a biopsy should not be ordered.
Despite multiple visits and urinary symptoms that followed, the defendant did not order another PSA in follow up until 7/17/08, at which time it was 26.5. The defendant thought that this PSA could be ignored because he thought it was due to multiple invasive manipulations and catheter usage the decedent had recently had. It was not until 3/09, when the decedent was treated by another physician, that he was finally diagnosed with aggressive Gleason 9 score prostate cancer that had spread to his lymph nodes and bones.
Plaintiff’s expert testified that the plaintiff’s elevated PSA of 5.8 and later 26.5 required a biopsy to be recommended and the risks of prostate cancer discussed with the patient. The defendants denied that a biopsy was indicated given the previous negative biopsy with a nearly identical PSA elevation and benign reasons for the elevation. The defendant’s also claimed that Gleason 9 prostate cancers are aggressive and would have been incurable even if a biopsy had been done. However, the jury heard evidence that early Gleason 9 prostate cancers can be cured and are more amenable to long term survival, but that such cancers diagnosed late, as here, have poor outcomes. Indeed, the decedent fought his cancer, but it was so advanced at that time that he died on 8/29/10 at the age of 67.
Jury verdict: $2,847,524.00
Medical Malpractice / Wrongful Death Case
Middlesex Superior Court
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