Wrongful Death - Medical Malpractice - Failure to Diagnose

Prior to trial, Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin partner Jason Rubin obtained a $600,000 settlement in a medical malpractice/wrongful death case arising out of the failure to diagnose uterine cancer in a 35 year old woman.

Decedent presented to her internist in 2008 with complaints of abdominal pain. The internist recommended, among other things, a pelvic ultrasound and abdominal ultrasound. These tests were performed at an outside facility and the report of the pelvic ultrasound stated that there was endometrial thickening, which could represent endometrial hyperplasia, inflammation or neoplastic involvement. The radiologist recommended that an MRI be performed for further evaluation. Notwithstanding this finding and recommendation, the internist did not recommend an MRI or further workup at that time. At his deposition, the internist testified that he never received the pelvic ultrasound report from the radiology facility and was unaware of the radiologist's findings.

One year later, decedent experienced irregular menstrual bleeding. Further workup at that time, including a pelvic ultrasound, CT scan and endometrial biopsy determined that she had uterine cancer. She underwent surgery and it was found that the cancer had metastasized to the bladder, small bowel, rectosigmoid colon and pelvic sidewall. She thereafter underwent chemotherapy and radiation therapy, but died in July 2010.

Jason claimed that the internist was negligent for failing to follow up for the results of the pelvic ultrasound that he ordered. If he had done so, he would have learned of the uterine abnormality, and further workup at that time would have led to the diagnosis of uterine cancer one year earlier. Jason claimed that the delay in diagnosis and treatment allowed the cancer to metastasize, and diminished her chance for survival.

The $600,000 recovery is considerable in light of the fact that decedent's cancer - high grade endometrial stromal sarcoma - is very aggressive and carries a poor prognosis regardless of the stage at which it is diagnosed. She would have likely required the same or similar treatment even if her cancer was diagnosed one year earlier. Additionally, the decedent was not employed and did not have any children - thus limiting wrongful death damages.

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