$275,000: Med-Mal Suit Stems From Failure To Diagnose Colon Cancer For Three Years

CASE DESCRIPTION: Plaintiff received a barium enema, which showed polyp in her colon. Her Doctor overlooked that finding in the report. Three years later a follow up exam was performed that showed a malignancy at the same location of the earlier polyp. Plaintiff brought suit against her doctor for breaching standard duty of care. The Defense disputed whether the Plaintiff actually suffered damages.

RESULT: $275,000.00 total settlement

In December, 1985, Plaintiff underwent a barium enema of her colon which showed a 1cm polyp in her colon. Defendant Dr. James G. failed to read the report indicating this suspicious lesion. Plaintiff alleged that Dr. James G.’s failure to read the report breached the standard of care.

Plaintiff alleged that the standard of care mandated that a colonoscopy be performed for the purposes of biopsying this lesion, which was either precancerous or cancerous at that time. Defendant did no further follow up care until February, 1988, at which time a repeat barium enema was performed which showed a malignancy at the same location as the earlier polyp. Surgery which was performed at that time confirmed that this was cancerous and that it had metastisized into one paracolic lymph node. Fortunately for Plaintiff, she has had no further spread of the cancer and no recurrence of the cancer since the time of her surgery.

The polyp which was noted in December of 1985 should have been immediately biopsied via colonoscopy. Also the Defendant’s failure to adequately monitor and follow up this polyp allowed it to go and spread to the point that it metastisized into one paracolic lymph node. If Defendant had followed the standard of care and biopsied this polyp at the time that it was first noted on the barium enema performed on December, 1985, Plaintiff would have required no more than a local bowel resection and the cancer would not have metastisized into a paracolic lymph node.

The Defense argued, even if the polyp had been noted and treated at the time it had first appeared in December, 1985, Plaintiff would have received a surgery that would have been essentially the same as what she ultimately required. In addition, Plaintiff has had no recurrence or spread of the cancer since the diagnosis was made and it is now over 5 years since the onset of cancer so that her prognosis is very good.

TYPE OF CASE: Medical Malpractice

INJURIES: Doctor failed to diagnose colon cancer.

DATE & LOCATION OF INCIDENT: From 12/85 – 2/88 in Fullerton, California.

PLAINTIFF’S AGE: 57 at time of incident

OCCUPATION: Typesetter for printing company

David P. Crandall
For Plaintiff – Dorotha B.

Michael Packer
For Defendant – James G.