A Charleston, SC jury this week ordered a physician and his employer, a radiology company, to pay $6.9 million dollars to a woman and her husband for the loss of chance of survival after a significant delay in diagnosing breast cancer. The now-47 year old woman, employed as a nurse, was 39 when she went for a mammogram. The screening showed new calcifications that weren’t present on a mammogram performed five years prior.
Nevertheless, her doctor interpreted the study as benign and ordered no additional studies, diagnostic testing or follow-up appointments. Two years later, the woman was diagnosed with Stage III Invasive Duct Carcinoma. By 2013, the cancer had metastasized (spread) to her bones, including her sternum, spine and hip. The diagnosis was that the disease had become terminal, meaning that there was no hope for a cure.
The attorneys presented testimony of expert witnesses who stated that had additional testing been conducted, her cancer would have been diagnosed sooner and her chances of survival would have been between 85 and 100 percent. Notably, the American Cancer Society recommends that women begin yearly mammograms at age 45. The woman’s attorneys used this fact to show how proactive she was when it came to her health. The verdict included $6.2 million to the woman and $700,000 to her husband for loss of consortium.