$950,000 Settlement for Failure to Diagnose Chest Wall Cancer

The widow of a Bergen County psychoanalyst received a $950,000 settlement as a result of the failure to timely diagnose and treat her husband’s chest wall cancer. At the time of a routine physical examination, the husband’s primary doctor failed to recognize an abnormality on a chest x-ray. Although the chest x-ray was also then sent to a radiologist for a second review, and the radiology wrote a report to the primary doctor advising of the abnormality and recommending a Cat Scan, the primary doctor failed to head the radiologist’s advice and send the patient for a Cat Scan. One year later, as a result of developing scapular pain, the patient underwent surgery on the cervical spine to remove a “bone spur.” Prior to the surgery, the primary doctor took another chest x-ray, as part of the pre-operative clearance, which was also abnormal and revealed that the lesion in question had grown. This abnormality was again missed by the primary doctor, who failed to advise the cervical spine surgeon of any problem. The surgery turned out to be unnecessary, as after the surgery, the patients scapular pain complaints continued and a Cat Scan of the chest revealed a sizeable tumor. Unfortunately, by this time, the tumor was too large to be surgically removed, and, the patient had metastasis to the lung. Despite aggressive chemotherapy, the psychoanalyst died one year and four months later. While it was unclear whether the pathology of the tumor represented a sarcoma, a carcinoma or a squamous cell cancer, had the tumor been detected sooner, it was more likely to have been surgically resectable, which would have resulted in a better prognosis and outcome for the husband. Blume Donnelly partner, Michael Zerres, handled the matter for the family.