$975,000 Recovery for Delay in Diagnosis of Lung Cancer

An internal medicine physician and her nurse practitioner contributed to a settlement on behalf of the family of a 75-year-old woman who died as a result of advanced stage adenocarcinoma of the lung.

In September 2005, the woman’s doctor ordered a chest x-ray. The radiologist sent a report to the doctor’s office identifying an abnormality in the lower lobe of the right lung, described as a 1.4cm nodule. Subsequently, the patient followed up with both the doctor and her nurse practitioner on multiple visits. However, neither followed up on the abnormal chest x-ray report by ordering additional tests, such as a CT scan. Later, in July 2008, the woman was not feeling well and was admitted to the hospital. Tests revealed that cancer was present in the liver, that had spread from the previously identified tumor in the lung, which had now grown. The tumor was now considered inoperable, and, despite undergoing chemotherapy to treat the metastatic disease, the patient died in December 2008. Blume Donnelly partner, Michael Zerres, argued that had her health care providers followed up on the abnormal chest x-ray in 2005, further testing would have been done and the cancer diagnosed sooner, when it was at a lower stage. If diagnosed at Stage 1, life-saving surgery could have been performed before the cancer had a chance to spread to other organs.