$1 Million Settlement for Delay in Diagnosis of Colo-rectal Cancer

2010 Medical Malpractice Trial Report

Women’s colo-rectal cancer went undiagnosed

On 5/31/00, the plaintiff, age 35, gave birth to her second child and sustained a second degree vaginal tear that required repair.During the repair, a large hemorrhoid was visualized by the doctor who told a nurse midwife to have the hemorrhoid evaluated with a possible GI consult to rule out a mass.The next day, the plaintiff was examined by another doctor and midwife. The plan, agreed to by the plaintiff, was to defer a GI consult and follow up with the plaintiff’s primary care physician (PCP) in a few weeks.

On 6/20/00, the plaintiff saw her PCP who noted that her exam was negative for hemorrhoids, that she reassured the plaintiff, and that she instructed the plaintiff to call back if there was a recurrence.The plaintiff had no recurrence of hemorrhoids and did not follow up with her PCP. Instead, over the next four years, the plaintiff sought care from her gynecologist, but had no rectal examinations.

On 2/15/05, the plaintiff presented to her PCP with complaints of rectal bleeding with bowel movements.The doctor noted that there were no external hemorrhoids but that a rectal mass was present. The plaintiff was referred for a GI consult and biopsy which showed intramucosal adenocarcinoma.

A chest CT scan performed on 3/3/05 revealed a 9.4mm nodule in the right lower lung lobe that was suspicious for metastasis.An abdominal CT scan and a PET scan showed likely liver metastasis. A liver biopsy performed on 3/17/05 confirmed adenocarcinoma of the liver.

The plaintiff began chemotherapy treatments on 3/23/05 followed by the initiation of chemoradiation on 6/22/05.On 9/12/05, she underwent an abdominal perineal resection, left lateral segmentectomy of the liver, cholecystectomy, and appendectomy. As of the settlement, she was doing well and not receiving any treatment for her cancer.

The plaintiff contended that the plaintiff’s PCP should have followed up on the finding in the rectum, and if so the cancer would have been diagnosed much earlier. The defendant contended that the finding at childbirth was a simple hemorrhoid, and that it went away as most hemorrhoids do after the delivery. The absence of any symptoms for four and half years indicated that the cancer could not have been present in 2000. The defendants also contended that the cancer found at diagnosis was in a different place than where the hemorrhoid was noted years earlier.

The case settled for $1,000,000.

Lubin & Meyer attorneys represented the plaintiff in this lawsuit.

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