Medical Malpractice - Failure To Diagnose Osteosarcoma - $775,000

Failure to Diagnose Osteosarcoma $775,000
Injuries Alleged: Metastasized Cancer
Court/case #: Withheld
Amount of Settlement: $775,000

Case Summary:
The 58-year-old plaintiff saw his primary care physician on Dec. 16, 1996. During the examination, the plaintiff complained of and the defendant palpated a 4.5-centimeter lump below the plaintiff's right clavicle. The defendant sent the plaintiff for plain films of his chest and clavicle and noted on his records that the plaintiff would be 'followed closely.'

One month later, the plaintiff returned to see the defendant as directed. The defendant reportedly informed the plaintiff that the films were 'normal' and that he had 'nothing to worry about,' despite the fact that the plaintiff informed the defendant that the lump was still present. The defendant's records for this visit did not mention the lump.

The plaintiff returned to see the defendant two months later for an unrelated problem. The lump was still present, though the defendant allegedly failed to inquire as to whether it was or not, and failed to examine the lump. Again, the defendant's office records did not mention the lump. The defendant reportedly failed to advise the plaintiff to come back if the lump persisted, and the plaintiff did not come back to see the defendant until May 1998.

In May 1998, the plaintiff found that the lump was now growing out from on top of the clavicle and that he was starting to suffer from dysphasia and some neuropathy. This time, the defendant made a referral and a biopsy soon confirmed that the plaintiff was suffering from a high-grade Stage IV osteosarcoma.

Over the next five years, the plaintiff underwent numerous surgeries and chemotherapy treatments in an effort to prolong his life. His prognosis at the time of settlement was grave.

The plaintiff contended that the defendant was negligent in December 1996 and/or January 1997 for failing to appropriately evaluate the lump by referring him to a surgeon for biopsy and/or by ordering appropriate radiological studies.

The plaintiff was prepared to present expert testimony that in the period around December 1996 and/or January 1997, the osteosarcoma was at a Stage I or II, whereas by 1998, when it was finally diagnosed, it had progressed to a Stage IV.

The plaintiff was further prepared to argue that the chest X-ray performed in December 1996 was normal, and that in May 1998 - when the plaintiff was finally diagnosed - he had substantial metastatic disease to his lungs. The plaintiff's oncological expert was prepared to testify that as a result of this delay, plaintiff lost practically any chance for cure that he had in late 1996 and early 1997.

The defendants were expected to present expert testimony that the delay in diagnosis of the plaintiff's cancer had no impact on his treatment options and only a minimum impact on his prognosis for survival.

The case settled one month before trial, which had been expedited based on the medical condition of the plaintiff.