$2.64 Million Settlement After Gynecologist Misdiagnoses Cancerous Tumor As A Benign Cyst
Client, a 68 year old woman, presented to her primary care physician for a complete physical examination. Her PCP found a 2 cm mass in Client’s posterior vaginal wall during the examination and appropriately referred Client to a gynecologist. The gynecologist saw Client one week later and misdiagnosed the mass as a benign cyst without first performing an ultrasound, which would have confirmed that the mass was solid and complex and required immediate workup. The gynecologist instead entered an order in the medical record for Client to see him again for a two-month follow-up visit.
Client understood that the gynecologist did not want to see her again, and the gynecologist’s staff did not schedule a follow-up appointment. Ten weeks after visiting the gynecologist, Client presented back to her PCP with new rectal discomfort, which the PCP diagnosed as a painful hemorrhoid. The PCP gave deposition testimony that during the visit she informed Client that the gynecologist wanted to see Client again. The PCP testified that she accessed the gynecologist’s consult note on her computer and read it to Client, including the portion about the follow-up visit. The audit log of the PCP’s access to Client’s medical record, however, established conclusively that the PCP did not access the gynecologist’s consult note during the visit. Client testified that the PCP never told her that the gynecologist wanted to see her again, or that there may be a relationship between her new rectal symptoms and the mass.
Ten months later, a second gynecologist correctly diagnosed the mass as an aggressive, malignant gastrointestinal tumor. It had grown to 8 cm. Because of its size and location, Client underwent a pelvic exenteration, leaving her with a permanent colostomy. She also suffered complications from radiation therapy and the extensive surgery, including chronic pain at the surgical site. Client remains cancer free.
We engaged experts on gynecology, gynecologic oncology, primary care, neuropathic pain, and EPIC electronic medical record software and audit log reporting. Our experts were prepared to testify that had the mass been diagnosed when it was 2 cm, Client would have avoided the exenteration surgery and the radiation therapy, and likely would have returned to her pre-surgical lifestyle without any significant change.
The gynecologist’s experts were prepared to testify that the gynecologist’s two month follow up order was within the standard of care, and that Client likely would have had substantially the same medical outcome even if the mass had been diagnosed correctly when it was smaller.
The PCP’s experts were prepared to testify that the PCP acted appropriately in referring Client to the specialist and that nothing she did in the ten week follow-up visit was in violation of the standard of care.
The case settled for $2.64 Million.