Medical Malpractice ­ Failure To Diagnose Colon Cancer - $1,400,000

Failure To Diagnose Colon Cancer $1,400,000
Injuries alleged
: Advancement of cancer to non-curable state
Court: Withheld
Amount of settlement: $1.4 million

Case Summary:
In January 1998, the plaintiff, a 46-year-old married mother of two, presented to her primary care physician with complaints of blood in her stool. A rectal examination was strongly heme positive. An anoscopy performed by the physician indicated dark maroon feces 'coming from beyond the anoscope.' The plaintiff's primary care doctor appropriately referred her to the HMO's gastroenterologist on call, who agreed that she would see the plaintiff the next day for a colonoscopy.

The plaintiff presented the following day as directed for colonoscopy. Due to pain during the procedure, the colonoscopy was not completed and only went as far as the vicinity of the transverse colon. The plaintiff was informed that the bleeding was due to hemorrhoids. The plaintiff claimed that she was never told that the colonoscopy had not been completed nor was she offered the opportunity to have the colonoscopy repeated to undergo a barium enema. Instead, she was instructed to return at age 51 for flexible sigmoidoscopy and to increase the fiber in her diet.

In September 1998, the plaintiff sought medical treatment for abdominal symptoms in New York, where she had recently moved. There, she underwent another colonoscopy, which was completed and revealed a large carcinoma in her cecum. Further procedures revealed that the colon cancer had spread to her liver and she was ultimately staged as Duke D. Since that time, she had undergone multiple courses of chemotherapy and surgeries.

The case settled two weeks before trial, which had been expedited as a result of the plaintiff's motion for a speedy trial.