Failure to Diagnose Appendiceal Cancer: $2.5M Medical Malpractice Settlement

2017 Medical Malpractice Trial Report

Lawsuit claims pathologist who evaluated appendix after removal was negligent in failing to identify the cancer and note it in her report.

On 11/27/10, the plaintiff, a 49-year-old man, underwent an appendectomy for acute appendicitis. The defendant pathologist was the physician (at Whidden Memorial, now CMA Everett Hospital) who evaluated the appendix after removal. She reported findings of acute appendicitis with perforation. The defendant made no mention in her report of any malignancy or any concerns of malignancy.

In the Fall of 2012, the plaintiff began suffering from abdominal pain and discomfort. He underwent a colonoscopy that showed a blockage in his lower colon. He was taken to surgery to examine the abdomen and massive carcinomatosis was found over the entire surface of the abdominal cavity. Peritoneal biopsies were taken which showed invasive cancer most likely spread from the appendix. The plaintiff’s oncologist called the defendant pathologist and asked her to go back and look at the appendix slides again from 2010. The defendant did and dictated an addendum to her original report from November 2010. She noted that, in fact, his appendix had shown cancer in the wall of the appendix which she had not reported.

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The plaintiff was diagnosed with metastatic cancer of the appendix. The plaintiff was told that his cancer could not be cured. He did undergo surgery to remove as much of the cancer as possible and then underwent chemotherapy. Despite the extensive surgery and treatment a 2015 CT scan showed new small nodules within his lungs which were found to be spread of his cancer. The plaintiff’s expert pathologist opined that the pathology performed on the appendix in 2010 showed evidence of early cancer. It was the expert’s opinion that the defendant was negligent in failing to identify the cancer and note it in her report. The plaintiff also anticipated testimony from an expert oncologist who was of the opinion that the cancer was early at the time of misdiagnosis. It was the opinion of the oncologist that the plaintiff would have been cured of his cancer if the diagnosis had been made appropriately back in 2010.

The defendant identified an expert pathologist who was prepared to testify that the cancer missed in 2010 was subtle and could easily be missed without any negligence on the part of the defendant. The defense further listed an expert oncologist to testify that the cancer had already spread throughout the plaintiff’s abdomen by the time of the appendix removal.

The case settled for $2,500,000 after mediation.

Suffolk Superior Court

Lubin & Meyer attorneys for the plaintiff: Andrew C. Meyer and Robert M. Higgins.

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