Leiomyosarcoma Diagnosis Delay: $1.25 Million Settlement

2017 Medical Malpractice Trial Report

Lawsuit claims delay in diagnosis of fatal leiomyosarcoma in single 61-year-old woman due to failure of doctors to follow up on abnormal finding on imaging study

The plaintiff’s decedent, a single woman with no children, suffered a two-year delay in diagnosis of leiomyosarcoma [a cancer of the soft tissue and involuntary muscle, which when caught early can be effectively removed].

The plaintiff’s decedent presented to the Emergency Department on 8/27/09 with abdominal pain and nausea. She had an abdominal ultrasound and was admitted for evaluation of suspected cholelithiasis.

The ultrasound showed calcified gallstones and a complex, hypo-echoic structure adjacent to the lower pole of the left kidney which measured 4 x 7 cm. The radiologist’s differential diagnosis included a complex exophytic left renal cyst with debris, or a large cystic lesion. A copy of the report was sent to the ED doctor, and the primary care physician (PCP).

On 8/29/09, the plaintiff’s decedent underwent a laparoscopic cholecystectomy for acute cholecystitis. Neither the operative report nor the discharge summary made any reference to the mass adjacent to the lower pole of the left kidney as visualized on the ultrasound study. The PCP was copied on both the operative report and discharge summary.

In 2010 and 2011, the plaintiff’s decedent had multiple office visits with her PCP who referred to the mass as a furuncle, and wrote that the atypical mass was of unclear etiology but appeared mildly infected and could be a malignancy. No further work up or testing was done to determine the cause of the furuncle until July, 2011 when it was noted she had a firm abdominal mass in the left abdomen. An abdominal ultrasound measured the mass at 18.6 x 8.6 x 10.9 cm in the same location as the mass previously seen on 8/27/09.

On 8/10/11, the decedent had surgery to remove the mass which was 28 cm and weighed 3,160 grams. It was leiomyosarcoma and staged as pT2b (deep muscle invasive). The decedent underwent palliative treatment with chemotherapy. She passed away on January 23, 2016, at the age of 61.

The plaintiff brought suit against the ED doctor, the surgeon, and the PCP, alleging that one or more of them neglected to follow up on the abnormal finding on the imaging study from 2009. The defendants each denied responsibility, yet collectively did not have a good explanation why this finding went unaddressed for two years. 

The case settled a month before trial for $1,250,000 with two different carriers contributing on behalf of two defendants.

Worcester Superior Court

Lubin & Meyer attorneys for the plaintiff: Andrew C. Meyer and William J. Thompson

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