$650,000 Settlement for Failure to Timely Diagnose Oral Cancer

In this case, a female patient presented to her Ear, Nose & Throat doctor in March of 2002 to have a mouth ulcer removed. Follow up visits ensued, and due to an abnormal appearance of the oral mucosa, a repeat excision was performed in April of 2003. Regularly scheduled follow-up visits with the doctor followed and, in January 2006, the patient presented to the defendant ENT for right ear pain, for which she was prescribed ear drops. Plaintiff presented to her ENT again in January of 2008 for a follow-up visit regarding her ear pain, at which time the defendant also noted a new lesion to the back right of patient’s tongue. Plaintiff periodically followed up with defendant with complaints of ear pain and tongue pain at the spot of the lesion, and finally on March 20, 2009, defendant took a biopsy of the lesion on the patient’s tongue which revealed Squamous Cell Carcinoma, which was determined to be at an advanced stage.

The plaintiff alleged that defendant should have performed a biopsy in January 2008, at the time a new tongue lesion was identified, and certainly should have done so by the time of the next office visit in July 2008. Defendant’s failure to timely detect plaintiff’s cancer resulted in the need for extensive surgery due to lymph node involvement, with a decrease in her five-year disease-free survival. Fortunately, the patient has not had a recurrence of her disease. The matter was resolved for $650,000 on behalf of the patient by Blume Donnelly partner Michael Zerres.