Medical Malpractice - Failure to Take Biopsy Before Performing Surgery

The plaintiff, sixty at trial, contended that the defendant, orthopedic surgeon, failed to take a biopsy before performing surgery to remove a suspected Baker’s cyst despite signs on MRI that the growth might be malignant and a recommendation from the non-party radiologist that a biopsy be performed. The plaintiff contended that the growth was, in fact, a form of cancer known as a liposarcoma, and that by performing the surgery to excise the growth, cancer cells spread, depriving the plaintiff of limb salvage surgery, which the plaintiff contended would have been successful. The plaintiff required an above-the-knee amputation which involved the removal of most of the right femur. The plaintiff has had no evidence of cancer for a six-year period, and the prognosis for long-term survival is good.

The jury found that the defendant deviated from acceptable medical practice by failing to consider cancer after receiving the MRI report and films from the radiologist who had recommended a biopsy, that he had deviated in opting to perform the surgery without conducting a biopsy first, and found for the plaintiff on the informed consent issue by getting the defendant to admit that failing to advise plaintiff that the radiologist suspected possible cancer before obtaining consent to an operation that was not for cancer was a deviation from the standard of care. The jury awarded $322,430 for past medical bills, $1,500,000 for past pain and suffering, $400,000 for future equipment expenses and $4,000,000 for future pain and suffering. The future awards were rendered over a 20-year-period.

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