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Medical Verdicts


Patient not told of irregular mammography

September 2004 · Vol. 16, No. 9

<court>Undisclosed County (Minn)</court>

During a routine mammogram, a suspicious mass was noted, prompting the patient to undergo a biopsy. No cancer was detected. Following 2 postoperative visits, the woman was told to return a year later.

At mammography the following year, residual density was noted at the biopsy site. A follow-up mammogram was recommended, but though the physician examined the patient the following week, another mammogram was not conducted for 5 months. At that time the woman noted itching, thickening, and slight indentation of the breast.

The study revealed a 3-cm lesion, and surgical removal was recommended. However, the physician never told the patient of the irregularity, instead advising her to return in 6 months.

Five months later, the patient had moved from Minnesota to Nevada, where a new physician noted a breast mass on palpation and ordered a biopsy. The diagnosis was poorly differentiated Stage II ductal carcinoma. She underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatment, and at the time of the trial was disease free.

In suing, the woman alleged that had the defendant physician diagnosed her cancer in a timely fashion, she could have avoided radiation therapy and would have had a higher chance of cure.

  • The jury awarded the patient $640,000.

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.

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