Medical Malpractice-Delay in Diagnosis Lung Cancer - $ 800,000

Amount of Settlement: $ 800,000

Case Summary:

Plaintiff's decedent, a 73 year old woman, was being followed for persistent cough.  Defendant primary care physician had diagnosed her with asthmatic bronchitis and ordered a short course of prednisone and a chest X-ray.  The chest X-ray showed a "vague paratracheal density in the right."  A chest CT scan was ordered in follow up, which evidenced a 5 mm diameter nodule on the right lower lobe.  A six-month follow-up CT study was recommended.  Plaintiff's decedent underwent the follow-up chest CT scan which indicated that the parenchymal density was "slightly more prominent appearing" but that the 5 mm nodule density was unchanged.  Radiologist recommended an additional six-month follow up for further assessment.

While the primary care physician continued to follow the plaintiff's decedent over the next two years, no follow-up imaging studies were ever ordered.  Finally, plaintiff's decedent changed primary care physicians and a chest X-ray was thereafter ordered, which showed a suprahilar paramediastinal mass, suspicious for malignancy.  Follow-up CT scan and biopsy confirmed a well-differentiated Stage IV squamous cell lung carcinoma.  Plaintiff's decedent received palliative therapy but succumbed to her lung cancer less than six months after her diagnosis.

Experts in radiology, internal medicine, and oncology were retained. The expert in radiology opined that the nodule in the right lobe first appreciated by CT scan was indeed the early stages of lung cancer. The expert in internal medicine opined that failure by the primary care physician to order a follow up study was departure from applicable standards of care.  The expert in oncology opined that the delay in diagnosis resulted in a loss of chance for cure.