Case #1009: Lung Cancer
The Plaintiffs’ decedent, age 70, was evaluated by the Defendant, an internist, numerous times over several years. The Defendant ordered multiple chest x-rays, which were interpreted as normal, despite the presence of a lesion in the right lung. Additional x-ray studies conducted each year for the next four years revealed that the right-sided lesion had continued to grow each year. However, these studies continued to be reported as normal. The decedent was never informed that he may have a malignancy in his lung. The lesion was left to grow unchecked for years, and it ultimately metastasized.
The decedent was diagnosed with lung cancer five years later, when he sought surgical evaluation for a lump in his neck. Tragically, by this time, the cancer had spread to his lymph nodes and the rest of his body. It was decided that chemotherapy and other treatments would not be effective. The decedent died of this disease the same year. The decedent’s mother and two adult children filed suit, alleging that the Defendant failed to properly interpret multiple chest x-rays between for a span of four years, as demonstrating a lesion in the right lung, which should have been diagnosed and reported to the decedent. The Plaintiffs further alleged that the standards of care mandated the Defendant to follow-up with appropriate diagnostic studies, which would have confirmed the presence of an early malignancy. Had the Defendant complied with the applicable standards of care as alleged by the Plaintiffs, the decedent would have received appropriate intervention and would have been cured of his disease. However, due to the ongoing failure to properly interpret the chest films, the lung cancer was left to grow, extend, metastasize, and kill the Plaintiffs’ decedent.