$737,500 Recovery for Failure to Timely Diagnose Liver Cancer

A man in his early 60s had been diagnosed with Hepatitis and as a result followed up with his gastroenterologist periodically for regular blood tests and ultrasound studies because he was at an increased risk for liver cancer. In October 2009, his gastroenterologist ordered a routine abdominal ultrasound which was performed on the same day as a renal ultrasound ordered by the man’s nephrologist for a different reason. The test was performed at a local hospital’s imaging center and the abdominal ultrasound was read as abnormal by the radiologist, as there was a small mass present. The nephrologist stated in the report that he called the gastroenterologist with the results, but the gastroenterologist failed to perform any follow up on the abnormal study. In addition, the hospital’s imaging center only faxed the report to the nephrologist, and, not the gastroenterologist. The nephrologist read the report of the renal ultrasound, but claimed to have not read the second page of the report showing the abnormal liver mass. As a result, no follow up tests were ordered for the patient. Over a year later, in December 2010, another routine abnormal ultrasound was performed, again showing the liver mass; this time it was larger in size.

Prior studies were reviewed, and, it was discovered that the liver mass was present on a May 2009 study, that was missed by the radiologist. In May, the mass was even smaller than it appeared in October 2009.

After being diagnosed, the patient was then notified and he was referred to a liver cancer center. Unfortunately, due to the size of the mass and spread of the cancer, it was inoperable. While the patient attempted various treatments he subsequently died as a result of his cancer.

The lawyers for the defendants claimed that the man’s cancer would not have been curable even if diagnosed earlier. In addition, they claimed, that the patient’s life expectancy was reduced as a result of other co-morbidities, such as hepatitis, diabetes and coronary artery disease.

The matter was settled on behalf of the man’s widow for the sum of $737,500.00, with the gastroenterologist, nephrologist, the May 2009 reviewing radiologist and imaging center all contributing to the settlement.

Blume Donnelly partner, Michael B. Zerres handled the matter for the man’s Estate.