Was patient not told of leiomyosarcoma tumor?
<court>Anderson County (SC) Circuit Court</court>
During a hysterectomy, a physician excised a tumor that a pathology report revealed to be a leiomyosarcoma confined to the uterus. The physician testified that he visualized the field but did not note any additional growths.
Six months later, the patient presented to her internist complaining of abdominal pain. A computed tomography scan demonstrated a large mass; exploratory surgery revealed leiomyosarcoma tumors. Despite chemotherapy and several surgical interventions, the patient died 21 months after the hysterectomy.
In suing, the woman’s family claimed the Ob/Gyn never informed the patient of the cancer’s presence—neither during her hospital stay nor at her 2-week or 6-week postsurgical examination. Further, it was noted that diagnostic studies that are appropriate following cancer resection were not ordered.
The defendant maintained he informed the patient and her husband that an aggressive cancer was removed; however, no notes indicated this conversation took place. The defendant further claimed that a gynecologic oncologist was consulted, but no notation of this was recorded, and the oncologist in question did not recall the alleged conversation.
- The plaintiff was awarded $1.7 million at mediation.
The cases in this column are selected by the editors of OBG Management from Medical Malpractice Verdicts, Settlements & Experts, with permission of the editor, Lewis Laska, of Nashville, Tenn (www.verdictslaska.com). While there are instances when the available information is incomplete, these cases represent the types of clinical situations that typically result in litigation.