Missed lung cancer diagnosis prompts medical malpractice verdict

Friday July 11, 2014

When people in Connecticut and across the country seek out medical treatment, they expect their physicians to diagnosis their condition correctly. In addition, proper treatment is expected, as well as any necessary follow-up care. When there is a failure to diagnose a condition or disease — especially one that is potentially fatal — the physicians, other medical staff and the hospital or clinic may be held liable in a medical malpractice lawsuit.

A recent verdict in Connecticut’s regional neighbor of Massachusetts underscores the liability that is possible when a doctor fails to diagnosis a disease. A verdict of $16.7 million was recently awarded to the daughter of a 47-year-old woman who died of lung cancer. The jury verdict was given after evidence was presented during the trial that lung cancer was missed by a radiologist in a chest X-ray.

The verdict, which is the largest of its kind this year in the state, was levied against the radiologist. His attorney stated that he plans to seek a new trial. The hospital issued a statement that said the radiologist “acted in accordance with the diagnostic standards of care and that, sadly, [the woman’s] cancer was incurable at the time [the doctor] became involved in her care.”

The woman went to the emergency room to receive treatment for a cough that would not go away. A chest X-ray was ordered, and the radiologist determined that it was normal. Antibiotics were prescribed by the ER physician for an upper respiratory infection. The woman was released; however, she returned a little over a year later. A CT was ordered this time and the proper diagnosis was made. The woman passed away from lung cancer around seven months later.

Source: Boston Herald, “Jury awards $16.7M in Boston malpractice suit,” June 6, 2014

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