Liver Cancer Diagnosis Delay: $5 Million Jury Verdict
2023 Medical Malpractice Trial Report
Middlesex Superior Court
By Robert M. Higgins, attorney for the plaintiffs
Medical malpractice lawsuit claims heptologist's failure to properly diagnose and treat liver cancer leads to death of 65-year-old man
Alan Gadde was diagnosed with Hepatitis C in the 1990’s and Cirrhosis of his liver in 2009. All the time he was cared for by the defendant transplant hepatologist, Dr. Fredreric Gordon at Lahey Clinic.
Monitoring liver lesion
Once Mr. Gadde was diagnosed with cirrhosis, Dr. Gordon ordered an MRI in early 2010 to check for liver masses as patients with cirrhosis are at increased risk for developing liver cancer. The first MRI showed a liver lesion that was 1.6 x 2.0 cm. A follow up MRI was performed 4 months later which confirmed the lesion was real, had not grown in the last 4 months and was not cancer at that point.
Radiologist recommends follow up MRI
In October 2011 Mr. Gadde had another MRI which again showed the lesion and showed slight growth. The radiologist noted in his report that he wanted to look at the lesion again in 3-6 months with a repeat MRI. Dr. Gordon decided to ignore the radiologist’s recommendation and ordered an ultrasound for 6 months later.
Heptologist orders ultrasound
The ultrasound was done in June of 2012 and did not show the lesion at all. Instead of recognizing that the ultrasound was not capable of picking up Mr. Gadde’s lesion, Dr. Gordon told Mr. Gadde that everything looked good.
Advanced liver cancer confirmed
In February 2013 Mr. Gadde underwent another MRI. It showed the lesion increased in size and was noted to be concerning for liver cancer. He had a biopsy that confirmed the diagnosis of cancer. Mr. Gadde was also found to have spread of his liver cancer to his spine, pelvis and bones in his legs. Alan Gadde died of his liver cancer in April 2014.
Lawsuit claims ultrasound inappropriate for monitoring liver lesion
The plaintiff presented evidence at trial from a gastroenterologist expert who testified that it was inappropriate for Dr. Gordon to use ultrasound to follow Mr. Gadde’s liver lesion. He testified that had he used MRI as recommended by the radiologist and required by the standard of care, the cancer would have been diagnosed earlier and he would have survived.
The defendant offered expert testimony from a gastroenterologist expert who opined that ultrasound was a reasonable way to monitor Mr. Gadde’s lesion and not a violation of the standard of care.
Jury finds in favor of the plaintiff
After a 7-day trial, the jury deliberated for 7 hours and returned a verdict of $2,750,000. With statutory interest the judgment was $5,000,000.
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