Colon cancer case settles pre-trial for $975,000

2005 Medical Malpractice Settlement Report

Delay in Diagnosis of Colon Cancer

The plaintiff’s decedent was a retired 79 year old man with a significant medical history who died in 2001, just two months after being diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. The plaintiff claimed the defendant primary care physician failed to perform or recommend colo-rectal cancer screening. The plaintiff further alleged the defendant failed to follow-up on blood in the stool, however the defendant’s medical records contained no such complaints.

From May 1995 to February 2001, the defendant evaluated the plaintiff’s decedent on numerous occasions. On many of these visits, the defendant performed a rectal exam and tested the stool for blood. On every occasion, there was no blood found.

On 10/18/00, the plaintiff’s decedent underwent a pre-operative exam by a non-party physician who noted a complaint of some blood in the stools. This physician suggested the plaintiff’s decedent follow-up with the defendant PCP post-operatively. Over four months went by before the plaintiff’s decedent complied.

When the plaintiff’s decedent finally did follow-up, the defendant wrote that the patient “has had previously guaiac positive stool and has ignored recommendation for follow-up”. Subsequently, a CT and colonoscopy diagnosed cancer in the sigmoid colon. Additional testing determined that the cancer had spread to a lymph node, the lungs and the liver.

Pathology revealed a moderately differentiated adenocarcinoma invading through the sigmoid colon into the subserosal fat and pericolic or perirectal tissue (T3). One out of eleven nodes recovered was positive for metastatic disease. The plaintiff’s decedent received adjuvant treatment with capecitabine. He died at home as the result of metastatic colon cancer in June, 2001.

The defendant disclosed experts to offer opinions on his behalf on both standard of care and causation. The defendant also contended that the plaintiff’s decedent had outlived his life expectancy.

The case settled a week before trial for $975,000.

Lubin & Meyer attorneys represented the plaintiff in this delay in diagnosis of colon cancer lawsuit.

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