Medical Malpractice ­ Failure To Diagnose Breast Cancer - $1,200,000

Failure to Diagnose Breast Cancer $1,200,000
Injuries alleged:
Loss of long-term survival
Court: Withheld
Amount of settlement: $1.2 million

Case Summary:
In March 1994, the plaintiff went to the defendant primary care physician. The plaintiff claimed that she told the defendant of a breast lump which the physician evaluated.
The defendant physician referred to the lump as 'one tiny isolated cyst superiorly in the left breast .5 centimeters or less that is tender.' The defendant ordered a screening mammogram and reassurance, which the defendant claimed turned out normal. The defendant allegedly advised the plaintiff to return if the lump increased in size.

Five months later, the plaintiff returned to see the defendant because she was concerned that her breast lump had increased in size. The defendant again referred to the lump as a cyst and stated that it was now about 2 centimeters in size. He attempted to drain this lump and was unable to obtain complete collapse. The defendant did not order surgical consultation and stated that he was going to re-check in one month.

Six weeks later, the plaintiff's breast lump was still palpable and she called the defendant's office regarding a surgical referral. The plaintiff was referred to a surgeon, who noted a 2.5 centimeter mass that would not collapse on aspiration. An excisional biopsy was then performed, which revealed a Stage II, Grade III adenocarcinoma.

The plaintiff underwent chemotherapy radiation followed by a lumpectomy and axillary node dissection. Approximately 16 months later, the plaintiff's breast cancer was found to have recurred, and this was followed by mastectomy and a bone marrow transplant.
The plaintiff's oncologist expert contended that the seven-month delay in diagnosis due to the defendant's alleged negligence was significant due to the aggressiveness of her particular form of breast cancer. He, along with a surgical oncologist, were prepared to testify that the delay in diagnosis allowed the cancer to progress from Stage I to Stage II and caused the plaintiff to undergo additional treatment for cancer.

This case was settled approximately one month before it was scheduled to go to trial.