$1.5 Million Verdict for Failure to Timely Diagnose Colon Cancer

The family of a 54-year-old Bergen County woman was awarded $1,500,000 following a two-week trial, where it was alleged that her gastroenterologist failed to diagnose colon cancer during a screening colonoscopy. Given a family history of colon cancer and complaints of abdominal pain, change in bowel habits, and rectal bleeding, the woman underwent a screening colonoscopy, which was reported as negative.

However, the physician, a specialist in gastroenterology, failed to document that he performed a complete examination by either taking photographs of the cecum and/or stating he visualized the cecal landmarks. Thirty-two months later, after having persistent complaints, the woman reported to the emergency room, where testing and another colonoscopy detected an advanced stage cancer in the cecum.

Despite surgery and adjuvant chemotherapy, the woman died 15 months later from metastatic disease. The jury found negligence on the part of the physician, and, awarded damages for lost income and services, as well as pain, disability, and suffering, which will be reduced by 34% attributable to the chance that damages may have occurred even had the diagnose been made at the time of the screening colonoscopy.

Blume Donnelly partner Michael B. Zerres tried the matter on behalf of the plaintiffs.