Cancer Case Studies

Routine Colon Cancer Screening Required For All Patients Over 50

72 year old woman, who was a former nurse, developed very non specific symptoms of cancer.  By the time she was diagnosed with colon cancer, she only lived a few months.  She had been under the care of her primary care doctor for years.  Her doctor regularly examined her, monitored her blood pressure and ordered tests for various symptoms.  However, he did not ever offer her routine Colon Cancer Screening.  She never exhibited any symptoms of bleeding from the rectum or other signs that would mandate cancer screening.

All the experts in the case agreed that the standard of care required a primary care physician to order routine colon cancer screening to all patients over the age of 50 regardless of their family history or lack of symptoms.

The defense attempted to argue that she was a nurse and should have asked for it.  Also, they argued that she was scared of tests and would not have undergone them if he had ordered them. 

Outcome:  The defendant doctor settled the case.

Failure to Diagnose Breast Cancer

43 year old female has what appears to be an abnormality on her routine mammogram test.  The radiologist recommends further clinical correlation and follow up.  Treating OB/GYN notes in the records that patient has a lump.  However she does not order any follow up or a needle biopsy to  investigate lump.  12 months later (at the next routine mammogram) the lump is larger and the patient is diagnosed with breast cancer.  Patient undergoes mastectomy and tests positive for spread of the cancer to her lymph nodes.

Expert testified that standard of care required OB/GYN to follow up.  Also, mammograms are required every 6 months when a suspicious mass is palpated.

Outcome:  OB/GYN settled case.