Cervical Cancer Diagnosis Delay: $1 Million Settlement

2015 Medical Malpractice Trial Report

Death of 41-year-old woman from delay in diagnosing cervical cancer

The plaintiff was the husband of a 41 year old woman who died in May 2010 after a delay in the diagnosis of her cervical cancer.

The plaintiff’s decedent had been a patient of the defendant gynecologist since 2003. Since that time she had abnormal pap smears which revealed a high grade squamous intraepithelial lesion. She had undergone biopsies in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006 and they were all negative for cancer, but her pap smears continued to be irregular showing high grade intraepithelial lesion and atypical squamous cells. In 2007, her pap smear continued to show atypical squamous cells but again the biopsy was negative. In 2008, a pap smear showed abnormal endometrial cells. Nothing was done further to investigate these abnormalities. The plaintiff’s expert was expected to testify that based on the decedent’s history of abnormal pap smears, the defendant was required at this point to offer a dilatation and curettage with scraping of the endometrium and endocervix to confirm or rule out cervical cancer. The defendant failed to offer that to the decedent.

In July 2009, the decedent began to experience urinary incontinence. An investigation of her symptoms revealed a rock hard cervix which was oozing blood and was consistent with cervical cancer. A cervical mass was detected and biopsied which showed squamous cell carcinoma of the cervix. She was not a surgical candidate and underwent chemoradiation for five weeks beginning in September 2009. Following chemoradiation a biopsy showed metastatic squamous cell carcinoma. By December the disease had spread to her liver and she began another round of chemotherapy. The decedent died from metastatic cervical cancer on May 6, 2010.

The plaintiff expected to present expert medical testimony that the defendant was negligent in failed to perform a D&C with a patient who had years of abnormal pap smears. The plaintiff expected the evidence to show that the decedent had cervical cancer for many years and that it was very treatable had the defendant acted appropriately.

The defendant was expected to call expert witnesses who were expected to opine that the defendant acted appropriately in his care of the decedent. Further, they were expected to opine that the decedent’s cancer had spread well before any allegation of negligence and any delay in diagnosing the cancer had no bearing on the decedent’s outcome.

The case settled for $1,000,000 which was the full extent of the defendant’s insurance coverage.

Lubin & Meyer attorneys represented the plaintiff in this lawsuit.

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