Jury Finds Physicians Liable For Malpractice By Misreading Mammograms And Gives Patient $12 Million

09th July 2010
By J. Hernandez in Medical Malpractice
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The mammogram is an important tool available to physicians to diagnose a female patient's breast cancer when it is still in the early stages, and in so doing saving the lives of these women. However the mammogram is only as effective as the doctor who interprets it. Whenever an error is made in the interpretation of a mammogram it may delay the diagnosis of the woman's cancer. While in this time, the cancer might become advanced. By getting to a late stage, the patient has a decreased five year survival rate. This means that the chances of her dying of the cancer increase substantially.

Consider the reported matter of a woman who went in for a routine mammogram and was informed that there was no indication of cancer. Roughly two years subsequently, the patient underwent another mammogram. This mammogram was interpreted as exhibiting no change to the dilated duct from the earlier mammogram. But, the prior mammogram had not evidenced a dilated duct and consequently the physicians did nothing to investigate the suspicious change from the earlier, clean, mammogram. Her mammogram was misinterpreted and her cancer was not detected. When the patient went in for another mammogram at another hospital the coming year, the doctor interpreting the mammogram noted a number of small nodular densities. The doctor documented that these remained unchanged from the prior mammograms. Still, neither of the previous mammograms had contained evidence of any nodular densities. Once again, her mammogram was misinterpreted and again her cancer was not diagnosed.

In time it was learned that she did have breast cancer, only by then it was metastatic cancer having already spread. It was moreover discovered that the spot that had previously been described as a dilated duct was location of the primary tumor. She filed a malpractice claim against both physicians and hospitals. The physician and hospital that read the third mammogram as suggesting small nodular densities reached a settlement for an unpublished sum in an amount less that the $2,000,000 available in insurance. The physician and hospital that incorrectly interpreted the earlier mammogram declined to settle for the full amount of the policy. They were willing to pay only a mere $125,000. The case went to trial where evidence was introduced that had the mammogram not been incorrectly interpreted the cancer might have been found while only a Stage 1 cancer, which normally has a 5 year survival rate higher than ninety percent. The law firm that represented the woman reported that the jury gave her $12,000,000.

This is a good case to consider for a number of reasons. First, two different mammograms were misread by 2 distinct doctors at two different hospitals. Also both doctors attributed results to prior mammograms which were not present in those earlier mammograms. It is hard to figure out how this might have taken place unless the physicians each looked at a different patient's mammogram as the comparison. However the odds of this happening twice at 2 different hospitals is extremely improbable. Yet the amount of negligence that would be needed otherwise is truly unexcusable. The jury seems to have agreed.

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Source: http://www.goinglegal.com/jury-finds-physicians-liable-for-malpractice-by-misreading-mammograms-and-gives-patient-12-million-1647320.html
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