Failure to Diagnose Cancer and Your Rights
Tremont Sheldon Robinson Mahoney P.C. has always been proud to support cancer research and survivors. We have cancer survivors and primary caretakers on our staff. We have seen firsthand the anguish and devastation cancer can bring to a family, and we have also seen the success of proper treatment and being cancer-free. Our founding partner, T. Paul Tremont, died of a brain tumor in 1999, and we honor his legacy by helping others affected by cancer and ensuring they receive the highest level of medical care possible.
At the Bridgeport, Connecticut, law firm of Tremont Sheldon Robinson Mahoney P.C., our medical malpractice attorneys help people understand their rights and pursue their claims for wrongful death or personal injury damages related to negligence on the part of a physician or hospital.
Get Cancer Misdiagnosis Legal Help
It’s hard to know how many cancer fatalities could have been avoided if a proper diagnosis of a malignancy had been made in time to save the patient’s life. What makes many forms of cancer dangerous is the risk that it will spread through the body and attack tissues or organs that are especially vulnerable or difficult to treat. A timely diagnosis can be just as important as an accurate diagnosis to save a patient’s life.
The cancer misdiagnosis lawyers of Tremont Sheldon Robinson Mahoney P.C. know how to analyze and assess the likelihood that a delayed cancer diagnosis or misdiagnosis could have been avoided if your doctors had taken reasonable care to identify the condition.
Delay in diagnosis or misdiagnosis can happen in all types of cancer. We review failure to diagnose cancer cases involving skin, breast, cervical, prostate, colorectal, brain and other types of cancer. Many of these cancers have early screeners such as mammograms for breast cancer, colonoscopies for colorectal cancer, or PSA tests for prostate cancer. If these screenings are not performed properly or the results are interpreted incorrectly, then a patient may not be properly diagnosed and not receive the care that he or she needs. This delay in diagnosis or misdiagnosis may hinder his or her recovery time, cause him or her to endure more aggressive treatment, or lead to a premature death.
Failure to diagnose and treat cancer in time to make a difference is usually a claim against a radiologist, primary care doctor or internal medicine physician.
Representative Cases: Failure to Diagnose and Medical Malpractice
After Long Fight, Tremont Sheldon Robinson Mahoney Wins $832,000 Verdict Against Doctor
Several years of aggressive litigating resulted in Jason Tremont of Tremont Sheldon Robinson Mahoney convincing a Stamford jury to award his client $832,000 against her treating doctor.
Attorney Tremont’s client, Theresa, a 79-year-old wife, mother and grandmother, began treatment in 1981 with Dr. James Guthrie, who is a colorectal surgeon in Norwalk. She always had a procedure that the doctor recommended to her, which is called a sigmoidoscopy. During a sigmoidoscopy, a trained physician, who specializes in the colon, inserts a long tube into the rectum with a camera. The camera allows the doctor to see if a person has polyps that might develop into colon cancer. Theresa was always concerned about colon cancer. Therefore, she had this sigmoidoscopy procedure performed by Dr. Guthrie on 22 different occasions from 1981 until 2001. Theresa thought she was doing all she could to avoid getting colon cancer. Theresa trusted Dr. Guthrie. However, Dr. Guthrie never told Theresa before 2001 that a sigmoidoscopy does not check the whole colon for cancer. The tube used in a sigmoidoscopy is too short to reach the whole colon, so it only checks about half way. The best way to check the whole colon is through a different procedure called a colonoscopy.
Dr. Guthrie did not inform Theresa about the colonoscopy or recommend that she have it until 2001. When he did, Theresa got the procedure done right away. Tragically, the test showed that she had colon cancer.
She had a cancerous tumor in the part of her colon that Dr. Guthrie had never checked because the sigmoidoscope tube was too short to reach that area. Theresa had surgery done immediately to remove the cancerous tumor. She had a long and hard recovery. She thought she might not make it.
Theresa, however, is a fighter. Over 50 centimeters of her colon was removed. The recovery was painful. She had to have six subsequent surgeries to repair a variety of hernias that she developed. She also had to undergo a course of chemotherapy.
Theresa believed Dr. Guthrie had made a mistake by not telling her earlier about the colonoscopy. She believed that if Dr. Guthrie had done the colonoscopy years earlier, the cancer could have been caught in its earliest stages as a polyp and easily removed without having to go through surgery and chemotherapy.
She had to live with fear that the cancer would come back. But Dr. Guthrie denied he did anything wrong and produced records he had written, as well as records that others in his office had written, which suggested that he had told Theresa for 20 years to get the colonoscopy but she always refused.
Theresa knew the records were untrue. She knew that before 2001, Dr. Guthrie had never told her about the colonoscopy. She knew that the only way to uncover the truth was to bring her claims to court. Theresa called several lawyers but they refused to take her case. Then she called Tremont Sheldon Robinson Mahoney. The lawyers and staff at Tremont Sheldon Robinson Mahoney believed in Theresa. On behalf of Theresa, we investigated her claims and retained doctors from around the Northeast who believed that the actions of Dr. Guthrie were wrong and who testified that the medical standard required him to perform the colonoscopy.
Dr. Guthrie, however, stuck to his guns. He and his team of lawyers and his insurance company refused to offer Theresa one single penny to settle the case! They argued that the doctor did nothing wrong and that it was all Theresa’s fault because she did not get the colonoscopy as Dr. Guthrie claimed he had told her to do.
Attorney Tremont represented Theresa at her trial in Stamford, which was held at the Complex Litigation Court, a special court for difficult cases. Dr. Guthrie’s legal team brought in other doctors from both Connecticut and out of state to say that Dr. Guthrie did all the right things. Attorney Tremont fought back with Dr. Guthrie’s own evidence. He pointed out that the records in the chart were made in different types of ink and in different handwritings. Despite Dr. Guthrie’s original testimony under oath that he could identify the handwriting, attorney Tremont was able to prove that some of the handwriting actually belonged to Dr. Guthrie’s wife!
The jury was not happy about what it saw during the trial. The jurors took their jury oath and obligation extremely seriously, and they deliberated three full days before coming to a unanimous verdict. The jury told Dr. Guthrie that he had been negligent and damaged Theresa. Further, the jury ordered Dr. Guthrie to pay to Theresa the sum of $832,000.
“The jury spoke today and vindicated what Theresa has been saying all along. Doctors, like anyone else, have to be held accountable for their mistakes,” Attorney Jason Tremont said.
$1.5 Million Settlement for Misread Mammograms
A woman in her late 30s, diagnosed with advanced breast cancer, later learned that a radiologist had misread several of her mammograms done in previous years. Evidence was presented that the cancer should have been detected by the radiologist years earlier. As a result of the delay in diagnosis, the patient had to undergo radical surgery for removal of the breast and aggressive chemotherapy. In addition, the advanced staging of the cancer indicated a worsened prognosis. Tremont Sheldon Robinson Mahoney was able to settle the case for $1.5 million.
$1 Million Settlement for Complications and Subsequent Death After Simple Biopsy
A 21-year-old healthy male college student entered the hospital for a simple scheduled biopsy. A CT scan of his chest was done, and he complained of having difficulty breathing when in a prone position. The CT scan showed that a growth on the front of his chest cavity was pressing against his windpipe and practically cutting off his breathing when he laid down. The radiologist viewing the X-ray never put anything about the compromise of the windpipe in the X-ray report, and the CT scan report was never placed in the patient’s chart.
When the operation started to remove the growth on the chest cavity, there was no anesthetist available and another doctor was called into the surgery who did not review the patient’s chart or CT scan. As the operation started, the boy stopped breathing when the air tube was put into his windpipe. The tube was taken out (extubated) and put back in (intubated) continually over a 25-minute period. Finally, a cardiologist came running into the room, looked at the film, and immediately saw that the air tube was being pushed against the growth, completely blocking off the boy’s breathing. This young man remained comatose for over one month and died. Tremont Sheldon Robinson Mahoney was able to settle the case for $1 million.
Medical Malpractice Frequently Asked Questions
How can I be assured of good medical care while in the hospital?
A.When you are in a hospital, demand specific information:
1. You and a trusted family member should always know the diagnosis and potential procedure.
2. Question each procedure before it is started.
3. Before taking medication, ask what it is for and who prescribed it.
4. Insist that you know the doctor who is in charge of your case overall.
5. Before going into the operating room, find out who they think you are, as well as what operation they expect to perform and where upon your body.
6. You and your family members should not be afraid to complain if you feel the patient is having a problem that is being ignored.
7. Repeat over and over again any allergies or reactions you may have.
8. If your instincts say something is wrong, demand to see the doctor in charge.
9. Never hesitate to ask for and obtain a second opinion.
How long does it take to determine whether I have a medical negligence case?
A.The investigation to determine whether a medical malpractice case exists can take several months and sometimes over a year. This is why it is very important that you consult with an attorney as soon as possible if you feel that you or a family member has been harmed by medical treatment. Before we can decide whether you have a case, we must obtain copies of all your relevant medical records and reports, including at times x-ray and MRI scans. Typically, these records are provided to an out-of-state medical provider in order to determine whether medical rules and standards have been broken. Sometimes we have to consult with doctors in several different medical specialties before we can make a decision on whether we can bring a case for you.
How much time do I have to bring a case against a medical provider, hospital or nursing home for harm caused to me or a family member?
A.Under the law, you generally have two years from the date of malpractice or from when you knew or should have known of the malpractice in which to bring a claim in a court of proper jurisdiction. The maximum amount of time for bringing a claim under any circumstances is three years from the date of malpractice. In order to determine the specific limitation that may apply in your case, you should consult with a lawyer as soon as possible. You can also request a 90-day automatic extension of time in which to file suit, which must be filed before the applicable limitation has expired.
How to best survive a Connecticut hospital stay?
• To reduce problems during a Connecticut hospital stay, demand specific information. Some guidelines are mentioned below:
• You and a trusted family member should always know the diagnosis and potential procedures.
• Question each procedure that someone is to perform before it is started.
• Before taking medication, ask what it is for and who prescribed it.
• Insist that you know the doctor who is in charge of your case overall.
• Before going into the operating room, find out who they think you are, as well as what operation they expect to perform and where upon your body.
• You and your family members should not be afraid to complain if you feel the patient is having a problem that is being ignored.
• Repeat over and over again any allergies or reactions you may have.
• If your instincts say something is wrong, demand to see the doctor in charge.
• Never hesitate to ask for and obtain a second opinion.
If a patient tragically dies as a result of careless medical care and treatment, can a case still be brought?
A.Yes. In the tragic situation where careless medical care and treatment result in a patient’s death, a lawsuit can be brought by the administrator of the estate of the person who died, whether or not the person had a will.
What is required under the law in order to bring a case against a medical provider, hospital or nursing home for harm caused to me or a family member?
A.Under the law, in order to file a medical negligence claim against a medical provider, hospital or nursing home, we must obtain the written and signed opinion of a similar health care provider stating that there have been violations of the medical rules or standards in the care and treatment provided to a patient and the statement must also give a detailed basis for the opinions. The statement must be filed with the lawsuit. In addition, the attorney must also attach a certificate of probable cause that there is a good faith belief that grounds exist for a lawsuit.