Years Of Physician Ignoring Abnormal Screening Test Results Leaves Man With Avanced Prostate Cancer

04th October 2010
By J. Hernandez in Medical Malpractice
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This year about 14% of the 193,000 adult men identified as having prostate cancer will already have advanced prostate cancer by the time the cancer is detected. With screening, including digital examinations and PSA blood tests, a number of these individuals could have been diagnosed while their cancer was in the early stages. A lapse of time until the cancer is advanced not only limits the man’s treatment alternatives but also dramatically reduces his chances of surviving the cancer. Consider the following published malpractice claim as an example.

While conducting a physical examination on a 56 year old male patient, a physician noted a small nodule on the left side of the prostate. The physician ordered a PSA test which came back as 3.1 - typically considered to be in the normal range. The doctor did nothing else at the time. Just about three years went by. The doctor again performed a physical examination and records that there were no abnormalities felt on the prostate. This time, the doctor does not order a PSA test. The patient consulted with by a different physician around 6 weeks later for an insurance mandated medical examination. This doctor ordered a PSA test which comes back at 5.3. This is considered high. The man then contacted his regular physician's practice and was told to come back for them to take their own PSA test. This test came back a 3.5 - in normal range. The doctor assured the patient there was no need for worry or for any follow up.

Once more, nearly three years went by until the doctor next screened the patient. The physician again documents the nodule. The doctor then ordered a PSA test that registered at 4.7 - high. The doctor fails to notify the individual and takes no action on these 2 abnormal test results. Close to two years later the physical examination reveals that the prostate not only had a nodule, but was firm on the side of the nodule and was enlarged. The PSA test at this point shows the level at 14.1. On this occasion, the physician at last refers the patient to a Urologist who finds that the patient has metastatic prostate cancer that had reached the bones around pubic area and the top portion of his right leg.

An action for medical malpractice followed in the process of which the physician stated that the presence of the nodule indicated an “abnormal” finding. The law firm that assisted the man and his wife reported that the matter was resolved for $850,000. This sum included $250,000 for non-economic damages and $250,000 for the wife’s future wrongful death claim. This is the top amount that can be recovered for those claims under the laws of the state where the lawsuit arose.

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