Liver Cancer Diagnosis Delay: $2.5M Settlement

2017 Medical Malpractice Trial Report

Lawsuit claims failure to recognize abnormal blood work, failure to order abdominal ultrasounds, and failure to properly treat chronic hepatitis B

The plaintiff, age 55, was diagnosed in 2014 with metastatic liver cancer. He brought suit against his PCP and GI for inadequate monitoring of his chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV), and for failing to diagnose him and treat him in a timely way.

The defendant PCP ordered screening lab work for HBV. The plaintiff was then referred to the defendant GI for consultation and management. The GI recommended monitoring liver transaminases at approximately 6-12 month intervals, and scheduling a baseline abdominal ultrasound. An order was entered for recurring lab work (including AFP tumor marker) every 6 months.

The abdominal ultrasound showed a normal appearing liver with no evidence of hepatic neoplasm. For the next year and a half, the patient saw his PCP and GI. He had some blood tests, but no abdominal ultrasound. The patient cancelled several appointments due to lack of insurance.

See also:
Liver Cancer Diagnosis Delay: $3.5 Million
A delay in diagnosis and treatment of liver cancer in Asian man with history of Hepatitis B results in death.

When he presented again to the PCP, his blood work revealed an AFP tumor marker of 263, which had risen from 3.5 the year before. The GI ordered a CT scan of the abdomen, but the test was not done due to the patient’s insurance issues. Subsequently, the GI recommended obtaining a repeat ultrasound however the patient did not have this for several months. Follow up blood work revealed an AFP tumor marker of 1448. When the patient had the ultrasound, it showed a large 10 cm solid liver mass in the mid right lobe of the liver and additional smaller 2-3 cm solid liver masses scattered in the right lobe of liver, which were suggestive of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) with liver metastases.

The patient’s liver cancer was deemed inoperable and non-curable, but amenable to chemotherapy which he underwent. The patient was still alive in 2017.

The plaintiff claimed the defendants failed to recognize and appreciate that he had abnormal blood work, failed to get abdominal ultrasounds for surveillance every 6 to 12 months, and failed to properly treat his chronic hepatitis B with medication therapy.

The case settled shortly before trial for $2,500,000.

Middlesex Superior Court

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

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