Failure to Order Additional Imaging Leads to Terminal Breast Cancer Diagnosis

A South Carolina jury recently returned a $6.9 million verdict for a woman and her husband following a diagnostic radiologist's failure to order additional imaging following a mammogram.  The plaintiff, a 39 year old woman, and an employee of the radiology firm at which she received the mammogram, brought suit against the diagnostic radiologist following a routine mammogram that showed dystrophic calcifications in the right breast that had not been present on earlier mammograms.  Dystrophic calcifications are well known to be associated malignancy in the breasts.  The radiologist, however, characterized the calcifications as being benign and did not order any additional testing.  The plaintiff argued that the standard of care required the radiologist, in his report, to recommend and/or order additional studies to confirm or refute his suspected diagnosis, including another diagnostic mammogram followed by a biopsy.  Two years following the mammogram, the plaintiff discovered a lump in her right breast and was diagnosed with terminal Stage III invasive ductal carcinoma.  She underwent chemotherapy and radiation but those efforts were unsuccessful.   Following a two week trial, a jury awarded the woman $6.2 million and her husband $700,000 for loss of consortium (loss of enjoyment of the marriage). 

At STSW, our lawyers routinely handle cases involving a failure to timely diagnose a patient with some form of cancer.  In Maryland, in order for a failure to timely diagnose a patient with cancer case to be actionable, the patient must have gone from a position of being more likely than not to survive the cancer had the diagnosis been made timely and treatment been initiated (i.e., greater than 50% chance of survival) to a position of being more likely than not to not survive the cancer (i.e., less than a 50% chance of survival).  Maryland does not recognize what is known as a "loss of chance" theory; i.e., where a patient has gone from a 90% chance of survival to a 75% chance of survival as a result of the delayed diagnosis.  If you or a loved one have been victimized as a result of a failure to timely diagnose cancer/ malignancy, call our lawyers at STSW for a free consultation at 410-385-2225.