$1,400,000 For Delay In Diagnosis Of Prostate Cancer In Rosendale, New York

Delay in Cancer Diagnosis

On May 1, 2013, John recovered $1,400,000 for a 60-year old Stone Ridge mechanic in a case against a primary care physician arising from a failure to screen for prostate cancer in Ulster County, Supreme Court.

John’s client was diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer in April, 2011 when a routine blood test called the Prostate Specific Antigen (“PSA”) was elevated to 129 (normal is under 4). A biopsy of the prostate confirmed the diagnosis of prostate cancer and a CT scan revealed metastatic prostate cancer in the ribs and thoracic vertebrae.

The plaintiffs’ claims were based on the family medicine physician’s failure to screen for prostate cancer with the PSA test and a digital rectal examination between January, 2008 and April, 2011. While a PSA test was ordered by the physician in May, 2010, the lab did not perform the test and the doctor never checked to make sure the PSA test was done. Most significantly, the defendant failed to explain the benefits and risks of screening for prostate cancer with the plaintiff. The plaintiffs’ claim was that the failure to screen for prostate cancer resulted in a significant “loss of a chance” for an earlier diagnosis of prostate cancer.

The case had an interest twist. In 2012, the United States Preventative Task Force issued a report stating that the risks of screening for prostate cancer outweigh the benefits and that screening for prostate cancer makes no difference in mortality rates for patients with prostate cancer. The U.S. Preventative Task Force, a/k/a “Big Brother”, seems to think it’s a waste of time to screen for prostate cancer since the PSA test can be unreliable in diagnosing prostate cancer and result in unnecessary biopsies of the prostate. The defendants’ lawyer intended to rely on the U.S. Preventative Task Force study to show that the government does not support screening for prostate cancer.

My two cents: There is one irrefutable lesson I’ve learned: SCREENING FOR CANCER SAVES LIVES! Just like any cancer, when prostate cancer is diagnosed and treated in the early stage of the disease, the patient is much more likely to survive. But once prostate cancer spreads to distant organs, it is fatal in all cases.

PSA testing is invaluable in detecting prostate cancer in the early stage of the disease. All men, age 50 and older, should have PSA testing once a year—it could save your life. But most importantly, all men should be educated by their primary care physicians about the pros and cons of screening for prostate cancer so the patient can make an informed decision whether the PSA test and digital rectal exam should be done.

John’s client is asymptomatic and continues to be active as a self-employed mechanic and farmer.

$1,400,000 for delay in diagnosing prostate cancer