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Case #3096: Ongoing failure to test for nasopharyngeal cancer results in a terminal diagnosis.


In January, Plaintiff went to the Defendants with complaints of a five-month history of a clogged left ear and left-sided hearing loss.  Defendant’s impression was bilateral mixed hearing loss, chronic serous otitis media, and a deviated septum. Plaintiff underwent placement of a pneumatic equalization tube in the left ear.

Over the course of 14 months, Plaintiff returned to Defendants on 10 occasions with repeated complaints of ear discharge, ear fullness, ear pain, constant clogging, nasal congestion and hearing impairment.  These Defendants did not timely perform a nasopharyngeal exam or appropriate radiological studies (i.e. CT or MRI).

In April Plaintiff obtained a second opinion and underwent a nasopharyngeal endoscopy which revealed an obstructing growth in the nasopharynx.  An MRI demonstrated a 4.0 x 2.5 cm irregular enhancing mass centered in the left nasopharynx.  The radiologist indicated that there was an extensive left skull base infiltrative process visible on a previous CT scan, and that nasopharyngeal carcinoma should be strongly considered.

In May, Plaintiff underwent endoscopy and biopsy of the nasopharyngeal mass. The surgical pathology was positive for non-keratinizing invasive squamous cell carcinoma. Final staging was T4N2M0.  The Plaintiff has undergone radiation and chemotherapy.

The Plaintiff alleged that the Defendants failed to consider and rule out nasopharyngeal cancer with appropriate examination and imaging tests.  The ongoing failure of the Defendants to timely diagnose the nasopharyngeal cancer and refer Plaintiff for proper treatment resulted in a terminal diagnosis of nasopharyngeal cancer.

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