Cases

Confidentiality Clause

The following cases settled for sums of $250,000 to $3 million. Due to confidentiality clauses in the settlements no names are being used.

Pediatric Malpractice

Amount of Settlement — Confidential.
Failure to diagnose cystic fibrosis in a timely fashion.

This was a case which involved an allegation of negligence against a pediatrician for failure to timely diagnose cystic fibrosis, a congenital disease of the lungs. It was alleged that as a result of the delay in diagnosis, the child developed a condition known as mucous plug, which caused one of the lungs to collapse, resulting in an episode of hypoxia (lack of oxygen to the blood). It was further alleged that as a result of the hypoxic episode, the child suffered severe irreversible brain damage. Subsequent to the depositions of all parties and experts, the case settled for an amount agreed to be kept confidential.

Though not completely documented in the pediatrician's records, the mother of the child testified at depositions that the pediatrician had seen the child for symptoms of chronic cough, chronic diarrhea and poor weight gain despite a good appetite. Plaintiff had retained an expert who was the Director of Pediatrics and Director of the Cystic Fibrosis Center at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City. He was prepared to testify that the pediatrician, who treated the child, was negligent and failed to recognize the symptoms as suggestive of cystic fibrosis and failed to order a sweat test to rule in or rule out cystic fibrosis as the appropriate diagnosis. A sweat test is a very inexpensive test where a specimen of the child's sweat is evaluated to determine whether or not the child has cystic fibrosis. It was further plaintiff's contention that had the cystic fibrosis been timely diagnosed, the mucous plug and brain damage would not have occurred.

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Malpractice in Reading a Mammogram

Settlement from an alleged failure to properly read and interpret a mammogram.

In this case, it was alleged that the defendant radiologist properly noticed and reported in a mammogram report the presence of calcifications in the right breast of the patient. However, he did not report the calcifications were suspicious, nor recommend that any follow up, such as a biopsy, should occur. It was only recommended that the patient continue with her custom of obtaining mammograms every other year. When the patient returned for her follow-up mammogram, two years later, once again the calcifications were noticed. However, this time, a different radiologist reviewed the films and also the films taken two years previous. While noting that the calcifications had remained stable over the past two years, he described them as suspicious and recommended an immediate biopsy. The biopsy revealed that indeed, there was cancer in the area of the calcification, requiring breast removal surgery and lymph node sampling. Though only one lymph node was found to contain cancer, distinct metastasis (spread) had unfortunately occurred, which ultimately claimed the life of the patient. The trial began prior to the patient dying, at which time it was alleged that there had been a two-year delay in the diagnosing of the patient's cancer metastasizing (spreading). The case settled after the plaintiff testified by way of a videotape taken approximately one year prior to trial, supplemented by live testimony at trial, which clearly demonstrated to the jury the devastating effect her cancer had on her life in the past year.

A substantial settlement was obtained because the plaintiff was prepared to prove that the defendant had been negligent in the interpretation of the first mammogram. Not all findings of calcifications on mammograms are suspicious for cancers. However, some calcifications are suspicious and radiologists who interpret mammograms are specifically trained to distinguish between these calcifications which require immediate follow up, such as biopsy, and those that do not. Not only was plaintiff prepared to put forth the testimony of experts retained for litigation that the defendant was negligent, plaintiff was also intending to rely on the radiologist's report of the second mammogram which described the calcification as "stable though suspicious."

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Malpractice of Family Doctor and Radiologist

Malpractice of family doctor and radiologist — failure to timely diagnose and treat breast cancer.

Amount of verdict — $1 million. Reversed an appeal — settlement prior to retrial.

This case involved an allegation by a 56-year-old woman that there was a one-year delay in the diagnosis and treatment of her breast cancer. The facts of the case revealed that plaintiff had submitted for a mammogram examination in June of 1990. The mammogram was properly interpreted by the radiologist as demonstrating an asymmetrical increase of stroma in the right breast of undetermined significance which he reported in the conclusion of his report. In the body of the report, the same radiologist had also recommended "follow-up study within six months might be advisable. This should not exclude the use of biopsy if clinically indicated." The patient was never advised by the primary care physician that her mammogram contained any abnormalities and in fact received a form signed by a second radiologist indicating her mammogram was normal.