Colon Cancer Settlement Is $1.5 Million for Delay of Diagnosis

2011 Medical Malpractice Trial Report

Colon cancer results in death of 66-year-old man—failure to offer or perform colon cancer screening

The plaintiff’s decedent was a 65-year-old man who suffered a delay in diagnosis of cancer of the sigmoid colon which resulted in his premature death.

From 2002 through 2006, the plaintiff’s decedent was a patient of the defendant. It was undisputed that during this time, the defendant neither offered nor performed a complete physical exam, including but not limited to colon rectal cancer screening in the form of digital rectal exam or fecal occult blood cards, colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy or lower gastrointestinal series screening.

In June, 2006, the plaintiff’s decedent presented to the hospital with complaints of abdominal pain for the past several hours and no bowel movement for several days. An abdominal pelvic ultrasound showed free air and an abdominal and pelvic CT scan confirmed free intraperitoneal air consistent with a perforated bowel.

The patient was taken to the operating room emergently and underwent exploratory surgery which found the cancer. The pathology report revealed invasive adenocarcinoma, moderately differentiated with transmural extension into pericolic adipose tissue. The tumor measured 4cm x 1.8cm x 1.5cm and invaded through the muscularis propria into the subserosa, or into non- peritonealized pericolic or perirectal tissues. Four out of eight pericolic lymph nodes were positive. There was perineural and lymphatic invasion with acute serositis. He was diagnosed with stage IIIB colon cancer (pT3-4 N2 MX). The cancer was later found to have spread to his lungs. His condition deteriorated and he died on 04/17/07.

The plaintiff claimed the defendant was negligent in failing to offer or perform annual colon cancer screening in the form of a digital rectal exam, fecal occult blood cards, lower gastrointestinal series and sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy from 2002-2006.

The defendant acknowledged that the standard of care required colon cancer screening, and that if he had been the patient’s primary care doctor, he should have done these things. Instead, he claimed that the patient was only seeing him for blood pressure checks, and did not want a full PCP. He was a private pay patient and declined any further medical services.

The case settled prior to trial for $1,500,000.

Lubin & Meyer attorneys represented the plaintiff in this lawsuit.

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