Breast Cancer Settlement: $1.35 Million

Failure to Arrange Biopsy Causes Delay in Diagnosis of Breast Cancer

Medical Malpractice Lawsuit - Lawyer’s Trial Report 2013

The plaintiff claimed her PCP was negligent in failing to refer her to a breast surgeon upon discovery of two newly palpable masses in her left breast, which led to a delay in diagnosis and treatment of metastatic breast cancer.

During a complete physical examination on 10/1/07, the PCP discovered a pea-sized mass at 3 o’clock in the outer left breast, and a mass at 4 o’clock near the areola of the left breast. The PCP recommended a left breast mammogram and ultrasound, but did not refer the plaintiff to a breast surgeon for further evaluation and treatment.

The mammogram and left breast ultrasound showed no definite mass and no suspicious clustered microcalcifications. Still, it was recommended that the plaintiff undergo a ultrasound guided biopsy of the mass at the 4 o’clock location. The biopsy was negative for malignancy.

On 12/4/07, the plaintiff had a follow up appointment for her two pea-sized lumps in her left breast. The PCP noted no change in size in the two masses. The doctor advised the plaintiff to continue with self-breast exams and to call with any changes.

On 9/26/08, the plaintiff had complaints of an increased mass in the left breast. Upon exam, there was noted to be a 2 cm mass at the 3 o’clock position of the left breast and the mass near the areola was unchanged. The doctor planned to have the mass biopsied due to the increase in size. The pathology from the biopsy revealed invasive ductal carcinoma, moderately differentiated, ER positive, and PR negative.

On 11/5/08, the plaintiff underwent left breast mastectomy with sentinel lymph node biopsy converted to completion axillary node dissection, and right prophylactic mastectomy. The pathology of the left mastectomy specimen confirmed invasive ductal carcinoma of the left breast. The pathology further revealed that 12 of 16 lymph nodes were positive for metastatic disease. She was staged at pT1cpN3a or stage IIIB breast cancer.

The plaintiff claimed that the defendant was negligent in failing to refer her to a breast surgeon upon discovery of the masses in her left breast, and as a direct result the plaintiff will likely suffer a premature and preventable death from metastatic breast cancer. The plaintiff claimed it was below the standard of care not to biopsy the mass at 3:00 o’clock.

The defendant denied liability and contended she complied with the standard of care, and that it was the responsibility of the doctor performing the biopsy to determine what areas of the breast to biopsy. The defendant further contended that the plaintiff did not suffer any harm from the alleged 13-month delay in diagnosis. At the time of settlement, the plaintiff was disease free with no known recurrence more than five years out from her diagnosis.

The case settled prior to trial at mediation for $1,350,000.

Court: Worcester Superior Court Attorneys for the plaintiff: Andrew C. Meyer and William J. Thompson, Lubin & Meyer, P.C.

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