A New Jersey jury this month awarded $6 million to the family of a man who died from colon cancer that should have been recognized and treated far sooner. A copy of the article regarding the case can be found here. In the medical malpractice lawsuit, the family alleged that the 62 year-old patient – whose family medical history included colon cancer – became concerned when he noticed blood in his stool. In 2007, he presented to a colorectal surgeon who, after performing a colonoscopy, told the patient that the blood in his stool was merely the result of hemorrhoids, indicating to the patient that there was nothing to worry about. Interestingly, the doctor had videotaped the colonoscopy so that he could use it for educational purposes in the future.
Approximately two years later, this patient found himself in severe pain and, consequently, presented to the emergency room. There, doctors discovered a large mass on his liver. Days later – and while still admitted to the hospital – another physician performed a second colonoscopy. At that time, it was determined that the patient had been suffering from colon cancer which had metastasized (spread) to his liver.
A review of the video from the first colonoscopy performed in 2007 revealed a polyp in the patient’s colon. A colon polyp is a growth on the lining of the colon. Over time, polyps can become cancerous which is why removing them when discovered is advisable to prevent cancer. Indeed, the Plaintiff’s attorneys argued that the standard of acceptable medical care requires that every polyp that is seen be removed. At trial, the Defendant doctor disputed that the growth seen on the video was a polyp. The patient underwent chemotherapy and multiple surgeries in an effort to slow the cancer’s growth but, ultimately, the patient died in December of 2011. According to the Plaintiff’s experts, if the polyp had been identified and removed during the 2007 colonoscopy, the patient more likely than not would have survived. Unfortunately, however, the two-year delay in diagnosis resulted in his death.
Our experienced medical malpractice attorneys at STSW have favorably resolved numerous medical malpractice cases involving the failure to timely diagnose and treat cancer. If you or a loved one believe that your doctor had the opportunity to diagnose a cancer sooner but failed to do so, give us a call today at (410) 385-2225.