A Pittsburgh resident in his late 50s died as a result of a delay in diagnosing lung cancer. The cancer was first "missed" on a CT scan done in early 2012 at a private hospital, and then in 2013 at a Veterans Hospital in the Pittsburgh area. The patient had a chest x-ray which was suspicious for possible cancer, and it was recommended that a CT scan be performed, but someone at the hospital "dropped the ball," and the CT was never scheduled until more than a year later. By that time, the tumor had doubled in size.
In most lung cancer cases the first sign that something may be wrong is a respiratory complaint from the patient, usually shortness of breath or a cough that will not go away. The investigation for lung cancer typically starts with a chest x-ray, but an even better test is a CT scan of the chest. Modern CT scans are able to detect lung tumors as small as 1 mm in size. In this gentleman's case, the tumor had grown much larger than that by the time it was discovered. Unfortunately, the late discovery deprived him of the opportunity for a cure, and he died in 2015.
Although the patient was no longer working, he was drawing Social Security and was also handy around the house. In a case involving wrongful death of a patient such as this, we claimed damages for loss of Social Security income and the value of household services. In addition, he had a very loving wife of several years, and an important part of the claim was for the loss of her relationship with her husband, the legal term for that being "loss of consortium."
Eventually, we were able to achieve a recovery in excess of seven figures with both the VA hospital and the private hospital contributing to the settlement.