Hasilty Performed Colonoscopy Leads to Missed Cancer Diagnosis

As was first reported in the Las Vegas Sun, a lawsuit was settled last month which claimed that a doctor missed a man's cancer during a hastily performed colonoscopy. Kevin Rexford, a 46-year-old pharmacist, said the defendant, one of the clinic's owners, missed an obvious colon cancer diagnosis three years ago. The alleged failure allowed the cancer to spread throughout his body and he now has only about a 10 percent chance of living five more years. Rexford is married with two young children, a fact that makes the failed diagnosis all the more difficult to reconcile. A source familiar with the case said the settlement was in the range of $2 million, the maximum amount of insurance carried by the doctor and his affiliated medical practice. Experts who were paid to review the case on Rexford's behalf said the defendant only took only three minutes - half the minimum recommended time - to examine Rexford's colon for cancer during a Jan. 28, 2005, procedure. His missed diagnosis allowed the cancer to progress to an incurable stage, the experts said.

Typically, when a colonoscopy is performed the colon is cleaned out through the use of laxatives in advance of the procedure.  At that point, the gastroenterologist performing the colonoscopy is visualized through the use of a scope.  If the health care provider utilizes too much for force or does not navigate the colon appropriately, a tear or perforation can occur, thereby leaking potentially lethal fecal matter into the patient's abdomen, which in turn, can lead to an infection (peritonitis) and a systemic illness or even death.  In other cases, such as the above one, the health care provider does not spend enough time visualizing all aspects of the colon, including but not limited any unusual polyps or tumors with an eye toward determining whether they are cancerous in nature.  Failure to make this diagnosis can lead to the tumor spreading locally or even systemically, which in turn, can cause a patient to go from a probability of surviving the cancer to a probability of dying from the cancer.  Other complications from a colonoscopy can involve the patient having an adverse respiratory reaction while under anesthesia.  For example, some patients can experience a rapid drop in blood pressure while under anesthesia which can lead to an inadequate supply of oxygen to the brain = brain injury.  This can result in significant physical or intellectual disabilities. 

At the law firm of Silverman Thompson Slutkin & White, we are experienced at handling a wide variety of serious missed/failed diagnosis cases, including failure to diagnose cancer cases in a variety of settings (lung cancer, colon cancer, breast cancer, etc.)  In fact, we regularly obtain million dollar plus settlements and verdicts for our clients in medical malpractice cases, and have been trial counsel in some of the largest multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements in the area.  Call our team at 410-385-2225 for a free consultation or visit our website to set up your free consultation.