The husband of a woman who died after her physician failed to diagnose her liver cancer was recently awarded $5.7 million in a medical malpractice verdict in Pennsylvania. Learn more about the case, as well as some facts about liver cancer and cancer misdiagnosis, in our blog.
In September 2007, the plaintiff’s wife had a CT scan performed, due to concern about enlarged lymph nodes and possible lymphoma. The CT scan revealed a 1.9 centimeter lesion of her liver. She was then referred to the defendant physician for diagnosis and treatment.
During a follow-up visit in April 2008, the defendant physician did not order a liver biopsy, believing it to be unnecessary. During another visit in August 2009, he again did not order a liver biopsy, instead recommending "watchful waiting." If the woman experienced no symptoms, he recommended another liver scan in 2010. This scan was never scheduled.
"On May 3, 2011, the woman had a CT scan performed at the Mayo Clinic. That CT scan showed a grossly enlarged liver that had an 11 centimeter malignant tumor," according to medicalmalpracticelawyers.com. "The plaintiff’s Pennsylvania medical malpractice lawsuit alleged that had the woman’s liver cancer been diagnosed earlier, she would have made a full recovery after receiving timely, appropriate medical treatment."
According to the American Cancer Society, about 35,000 new cases of liver cancer will be diagnosed in 2015, with 70% being in men and 30% being in woman. For women, the average risk of liver cancer is 1 in 196.
Cancer misdiagnosis is unfortunately not uncommon. It occurs in about 1 in 5 cancer patients. "The common causes of cancer misdiagnosis are inadequate patient examination, failure to order an indicated test, technological error during a test, misinterpretation of a test, or the failure to act on an abnormal test result."