Failure to Diagnose - Medical Malpractice

WRSH Partner, Kathleen Kettles, settled a case involving a 49-year-old woman who presented with complaints of nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain for approximately 6 weeks, initially diagnosed as diverticulitis and treated with antibiotics. CT scans indicated that the radiologist could not rule out a neoplasm (tumor).

When conservative treatment failed, an exploratory surgery was performed and no diverticulitis was found. The surgeon examined the large bowel during surgery, but failed to identify a cancerous tumor in the splenic flexure which is a curve in the large bowel.

Two weeks later, she returned to the hospital with acute abdominal pain and a large bowel obstruction. Emergency surgery was performed for bowel perforation necessitating an abdominal washout, bowel resection and the formation of an ileostomy. Colon cancer was diagnosed which had metastasized to her lymph nodes. She was hospitalized for a month during which she required a revision of the ileostomy and treatment for pulmonary emboli with anticoagulants.

As a result of the bowel perforation and complications, she could not receive chemotherapy for another 8 months. The delay in diagnosis, the bowel perforation and the delay in treatment resulted in her losing a chance of cure for her condition and she lost her life almost 3 years after her diagnosis.

Kathleen settled the case, after just one deposition for $2,225,000 dollars on behalf of the woman’s husband and adult son.

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