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Medical Verdicts


Did diagnostic delay lead to mastectomy?

June 2003 · Vol. 15, No. 6

<court>Middlesex County (Mass) District Court</court>

A 37-year-old woman discovered a small breast mass during self-examination.

Her Ob/Gyn diagnosed fibroadenoma, but ordered a mammogram as well as a breast check in 2 months. Although mammogram results were negative, the lump increased in size.

One year later, a biopsy of the mass revealed infiltrating ductal carcinoma that had spread to 3 axillary nodes. The patient underwent a lumpectomy, axillary node dissection, chemotherapy, and radiation. Later, a local recurrence required a mastectomy.

In suing, the woman claimed that the physician should have performed a biopsy when she first presented with the lump.

The doctor argued that breast masses are common and not always biopsied, and contended that an earlier diagnosis would have made no difference, as the cancer was aggressive.

  • The case settled for $850,000.

The cases presented here were compiled by Lewis L. Laska, editor of Medical Malpractice Verdicts, Settlements & Experts. While there are instances when the available information is incomplete, these cases represent the types of clinical situations that typically result in litigation.

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