Failure to diagnose cancer results in $5 million verdict

We can likely expect similar awards in Pennsylvania to what was delivered by a jury in the District of Columbia. There, a jury awarded $5 million to the family of a man that died after a doctor failed to diagnose this individual’s cancer.

The deceased man died this past December after having to endure four years of chemotherapy. However, it is claimed that such a cancer would have been detected at a much earlier stage if his treating doctor had followed the guidelines set down by various national health organizations.

This man was seen by the same doctor from 1992 until 2008, when his cancer was finally diagnosed. There are a number of screenings that, if conducted, will likely indicate whether cancer is or is not present. Such screenings are especially in order for individuals over the age of 50.

The family of the deceased man alleges this doctor performed only a limited number of screenings during the sixteen years that he had seen the patient, and that the colon cancer the man suffered from was not detected until it was too late. It was also asserted that the chemotherapy the man underwent was painful and unpleasant.

Attorneys for the family had recorded testimony of the man concerning his cancer just prior to his dying. Likely, such testimony made the jury sympathetic towards the deceased man and his family. Though the defense attorney had tried to make the point that the deceased man bore some responsibility for what occurred by not scheduling a colonoscopy, it was pointed out that the deceased man had relied on the doctor’s assurances that screenings for colon cancer were already being conducted.

Concerning medical treatment, timely diagnosis can often mean the difference between being able to easily treat a malady and forcing patients to endure prolonged and painful therapy that may not provide a cure. Doctors need to be held accountable for not implemented procedures that can lead to an early diagnosis.

Source: Legal Times, “D.C. Jury Awards $5M for Failure to Screen for Cancer,” June 25, 2012