Colon Cancer Diagnosis Delay: $1 Million Settlement

2020 Medical Malpractice Case Report
By Attorney Robert M. Higgins
Suffolk Superior Court
Boston, Massachusetts

Colonoscopy fails to reveal tumor when prognosis was better

The patient, a 60-year-old man, presented to the defendant gastroenterologist for a colonoscopy due to rectal bleeding. He was told by the defendant that the study was normal. The defendant noted that the quality of the preparation was fair.

Eighteen months later the patient underwent a CT scan for abdominal cramping. A mass in the colon was identified which prompted a second colonoscopy.

During the second colonoscopy a 4.2 cm mass was detected in the cecum. The patient was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer. Despite aggressive treatment, 3 ½ years later the patient died from his colon cancer.

The plaintiff was prepared to present expert testimony that there was residual stool in the decedent’s colon during the patient’s initial colonoscopy which obscured the location where the cancer was ultimately diagnosed. The expert was expected to testify that the defendant was negligent when he failed either use a cleansing device to allow for complete visualization or to have the patient repeat the preparation and return in three months. Had the defendant acted appropriately, the plaintiff’s expert was expected to testify that the tumor would have been detected earlier in time when it was still curable. Instead, the patient died from his colon cancer.

The defendant was expected to present expert testimony that the defendant visualized the entire colon and that there were no indications of cancer at the time of the colonoscopy. Further, the defendant’s expert witness was expected to testify that the decedent had a rare and very aggressive form of colon cancer and earlier detection would not have prevented his death.

The case settled for $1,000,000 two days prior to the scheduled trial date.

Lubin & Meyer attorneys represented the plaintiff in this lawsuit.

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