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Failure to diagnose cancer results in malpractice suit

There are patients in Louisiana who may know what it feels like to visit a doctor's office or be admitted to a hospital for the treatment of one illness, and then to leave after being diagnosed with something far more severe. It can be a terrifying thought. However, for some, the failure to catch such an illness is far more nerve-wracking. Some patients and those close to them may argue that a failure to diagnose a serious illness can be just as deadly as the illness itself. 

The family of a patient who died in another state in 2011 was recently awarded $1 million in compensatory damages and $2 million in punitive damages after a jury ruled that the patient's death was caused by cancer that a pulmonologist failed to diagnose. This patient was admitted to the hospital in 2008 for pneumonia, and during his time there he underwent a CAT scan. According to the radiologist, the scan revealed abnormalities which were noted for further review. A few months later the patient underwent a second CAT scan and the abnormalities were noted again.

Both times, these abnormalities were ignored by the pulmonologist. The possibility of lung cancer was discussed with the patient by a radiologist who reviewed the second set of scans. It was recommended that he make a follow-up appointment to discuss it further, but during this follow up, the pulmonologist discharged the patient. In 2010 the patient underwent a third CAT scan which revealed the cancer. Unfortunately, by this time the cancer had spread to the point where not even aggressive treatment could stop it. 

A jury determined that the pulmonologist's failure to investigate the abnormalities when they were initially pointed out to him and therefore the failure to diagnose the cancer early were the direct cause of the victim's death. Other Louisiana residents who believe that they or a loved one has been a victim of medical malpractice may wish to consult with an attorney. Victims or the families of victims may be entitled to compensation as was the case here. 

Source:, "Jury: Alabaster medical office must pay $3 million in malpractice suit", Amalia Kortright, Jan. 24, 2018

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