$750k for Failing to Diagnose Lymphoma

Delay in Cancer Diagnosis, Failure to Diagnose

As part of a standard pre-operative medical clearance, the patient’s orthopedic surgeon ordered a chest x-ray prior to an elective operation on the patient’s elbow in Ulster County, New York. The chest x-ray revealed a mass in the patient’s right lung and the radiologist recommended a CT scan to obtain a more precise picture of the lesion and determine whether further testing, e.g., biopsy, would be necessary.

The orthopedic surgeon ignored the report of the chest x-ray and did not order the CT scan, as recommended by the radiologist. Nine months later, the 65-year old female patient complained of chest pain and imaging studies revealed tumors in her lungs and pelvis. Three weeks later, a biopsy confirmed the suspected diagnosis of cancer, namely, diffuse B cell lymphoma, that had metastasized from her right lung. The doctors made the critical error of failing to diagnose lymphoma.

Diffuse B cell lymphoma is a curable form of cancer that begins in the lymphatic system. With chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy, the five-year survival rate is higher than 70%.  Without treatment, the patient’s likelihood of survival in five years was less than 20%.

After four months of chemotherapy and extended hospice care, the patient died from pneumonia, a complication from the lymphoma. The patient was survived by her three adult children and grandchildren. If there had not been a failure to diagnose lymphoma, she may still be with her family.

The lawsuit alleged that the orthopedic surgeon deviated from the standard of care by failing to review the report of the chest x-ray and failing to order a CT scan of the chest to obtain a more precise view of the lesion and determine whether a biopsy was necessary. According to the plaintiff’s expert in medical oncology, an earlier diagnosis of lymphoma would have increased the patient’s likelihood of survival by more than 50%. A delayed cancer diagnosis lawyer helped get the compensation her family deserved for their suffering.