Colon cancer lawsuit settlement is $1 million

2008 Trial Lawyers Report

Medical malpractice lawsuit involving death of woman from failure to diagnose colon cancer

From 1994 through 2003, the decedent was a patient of the defendant internist. The decedent had a family history of cancer and she developed anemia. Despite these factors and the fact that the decedent was in her 60’s, the defendant internist never performed a digital rectal exam, or recommended a sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy.

In June 2001, the defendant internist referred the decedent to the defendant rheumatologist for swelling and pain of her hands and feet. From July 2001 through early 2003, the defendant rheumatologist was also monitoring the decedent’s anemia. At no point in time did the defendant rheumatologist refer the decedent for a sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy.

In July 2003 and August 2003, the decedent began to complain of right abdominal pain, fatigue and weakness. On 8/31/03, the decedent was seen in the Newton Wellesley emergency department for complaints of chest pain and shortness of breath. A chest x-ray revealed a large left lung mass and a chest CT scan revealed multiple liver masses. On 9/4/03, the decedent underwent a liver biopsy, which revealed metastatic cancer which was suggestive of a primary colon cancer. On 9/12/03, the decedent underwent a colonoscopy, which revealed a large colon tumor. It was felt by the physicians treating her that this is where the cancer had begun and that it had spread from the colon to the lungs and liver. On 9/20/03, the decedent had surgery and it was found that much of her abdomen was replaced by tumor, her pelvis had a tumor, her liver was essentially replaced by tumor and she had 23 out of 24 lymph nodes positive for cancer. As a result of the extent of the cancer, the decedent was given continuous pain medication only and she died on 10/9/03.

The plaintiff was prepared to present expert medical testimony that the defendants were negligent when they failed to offer and perform colorectal screening on the decedent. It was the opinion of the plaintiff’s experts that with the decedent’s family history, age and anemia, either a sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy was required and either test would have detected the cancer due to the location in the colon where it was found. The plaintiff further expected to present expert medical testimony that the cancer would have been diagnosed and treatable had it been found in 2001 when the defendants examined the decedent.

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

Lubin & Meyer attorneys represented the plaintiff in this failure to diagnose colon cancer lawsuit.

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