Lung Cancer Settlement: $1.25 Million

Delay in Diagnosis of Lung Cancer Caused by Misread X-Ray

Medical Malpractice Lawsuit - Lawyer’s Trial Report 2013

The plaintiff was diagnosed with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer at the age of 42 in February of 2009. He had a smoking history of one pack per day for 20 years. The plaintiff claimed a chest x-ray was misread resulting in a 12-month delay in the diagnosis and treatment of the cancer.

On 1/4/08, the plaintiff presented to an Emergency Department with complaints of fever and body aches. A chest x-ray was ordered by the emergency department physician. The defendant radiologist reviewed and interpreted the chest x-ray film and reported the finding of a diffuse density at the medial upper aspect of the right lung, in the apical portion of the right upper lung. The findings were suggestive of pneumonic consolidation, however, careful follow up was recommended. There is no indication in the record that the radiologist recommended evaluation with CT scan.

The plaintiff claimed the chest x-ray film dated 1/4/08 demonstrated atelectasis or collapse of the right upper lobe (RUL) and an abnormal mass or density in the right hilum. These findings strongly suggest a mass or tumor obstructing the RUL bronchus which is highly suspicious for malignancy, not pneumonia.

On 1/29/09, the plaintiff had another chest x-ray for complaints of coughing and chest pain. The x-ray showed a large soft tissue density lateral to the distal trachea and right main stem bronchus consistent with a mass or adenopathy. A CT of the chest confirmed a primary lung neoplasm.

The plaintiff claimed that the 12 month delay in diagnosis and treatment of the lung cancer caused it to evolve from a curable condition to an incurable condition. The defendant denied liability, and further contended that any alleged delay had no effect on the plaintiff’s prognosis, given the very poor survival statistics for lung cancers generally in smokers.

The plaintiff was not a surgical candidate and, instead, underwent palliative radiation and chemotherapy treatments. He was still alive at the time of the settlement.

The case settled prior to trial for $1,250,000.

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

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