Failure to Diagnose Rectal Cancer: $1M Settlement

2011 Medical Malpractice Trial Report

Wrongful Death Lawsuit: Failure to Diagnosis Rectal Cancer Results in Death of 50-year-old Man

The plaintiff’s decedent was a 50-year-old man who died on 3/14/09 from rectal cancer. On 5/24/04, at age 45, the decedent presented to the defendant physician, his primary care physician, with complaints of rectal bleeding. The defendant physician performed a flexible sigmoidoscopy to assess the decedent’s rectal bleeding and diagnosed the decedent with hemorrhoids and mild proctitis. No further evaluation or work-up was offered, recommended, or performed. One year later, on 4/28/05, the decedent underwent a colonoscopy for complaints of continued rectal bleeding and rectal pain. The physician who performed the colonoscopy discovered a rectal mass very suspicious for cancer in the same area of the rectum where the defendant physician had noted hemorrhoids and mild proctitis one year earlier. The decedent was subsequently diagnosed with metastatic rectal cancer. His treating physicians determined the tumor had been submucosal in origin, meaning that it had not grown on the wall of the rectum but rather in the submucosal region underneath the rectal wall. The decedent was treated with chemotherapy and radiation but ultimately died on 3/14/09. The plaintiff’s experts were prepared to testify that the rectal mass would have been present and visible on sigmoidoscopy one year earlier and that defendant physician failed to recognize the mass at the time he performed the sigmoidoscopy in May 2004. The experts were further prepared to testify that the cancer was curable one year earlier, and because of the year delay in diagnosis and treatment of the decedent’s cancer, it progressed from a curable to incurable stage.

The defendant and his experts were prepared to testify that because the decedent’s cancer was submucosal (below the surface of the rectal wall), it would not have been visible during a sigmoidoscopy. They were further prepared to testify that the decedent’s cancer was highly aggressive and already incurable at the time of the alleged negligence. The matter settled prior to trial for $1,000,000.00.

Lubin & Meyer represented the plaintiff in this rectal cancer lawsuit.

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