Liver Cancer Diagnosis Delay: $3.5 Million

2012 Medical Malpractice Trial Report

A delay in diagnosis and treatment of liver cancer in Asian man with history of Hepatitis B results in death

The decedent was 44 year old Asian male who passed away from advanced liver cancer only three years after diagnosis. The decedent was a successful business man whose past medical history was significant for Hepatitis B. Asian men over 40 years who have a history of chronic Hepatitis B are at an increased risk for developing liver cancer, and therefore, careful screening for this condition is required. Understanding this risk, the decedent was careful to see his primary care physician on a routine basis and he was monitored with the appropriate testing from the late 1990s through 2003. As of December 2003, all of his screening tests were negative. In December 2004, the decedent transferred his care to the defendant who was also an Asian male with knowledge of the patient’s past medical history and associated risk for development of liver cancer. The defendant noted that he would obtain screening studies; however, despite seeing the decedent in his office on multiple occasions in 2005, 2006 and again 2007, these studies were never ordered.

In September 2007, the decedent presented to the defendant for a routine physical exam. At this exam the decedent asked for the required screening studies to be performed. Unfortunately, they were found to be abnormal and an abdominal ultrasound revealed a large density on the right lobe of the liver. Abdominal MRI confirmed the mass. Given the size and extent of the tumor at diagnosis the decedent was denied listing on the U.S. transplant list. He therefore returned to his native country, China, where this condition is more prevalent given the association between Asian men and the disease. He was treated with resection, chemotherapy and then underwent an allotransplant on 4/11/08 for recurrent disease. Despite continued treatment in China, the decedent succumbed to his disease on 01/08/12. He left behind a wife and two minor children ages 17 and 14.

The defendant was prepared to offer expert testimony on causation but not standard of care. The case was resolved prior to trial for $3,500,000.

Lubin & Meyer represented the plaintiff in this liver cancer lawsuit. (Andrew C. Meyer, Jr. and Krysia Syska, Middlesex County)

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