$775,000 Recovery for Failure to Diagnose Rectal Cancer

A settlement in a Hudson County lawsuit filed against a patient’s gastroenterologist for failure to diagnose early stage rectal cancer has resulted in a $775,000 settlement on behalf of the client. In April 2005, the female patient referred herself to a gastroenterologist (GI) with complaints of some rectal bleeding. The gastroenterology specialist did not observe any hemorrhoids and considered an infectious cause of the bleeding. Antibiotics were begun and tests to rule in an infection proved to be normal. The client was so advised and instructed to discontinue antibiotics. However, no colonoscopy to check for other causes of rectal bleeding, such as a polyp or cancer, were considered or discussed. In October 2006, the patient again began to have episodes of rectal bleeding and returned to her GI doctor. This time a colonoscopy was done which determined that there was a small cancerous polyp in the rectum. During subsequent surgery, it was determined that the cancer had spread to a regional lymph node and the patient was considered to have stage 3A rectal cancer, requiring chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Fortunately, the client has not had any recurrence, most likely due to her aggressive treatment. However, it was contended that the delay in diagnosis from 2005 until 2006 resulted in the patient receiving unnecessary chemotherapy and a fear of recurrence. The GI specialist agreed to settle the claim for $775,000 to avoid a trial.