A $2 million settlement was awarded to the family of a 58 year-old man who died when his lung cancer went undiagnosed. The Illinois wrongful death lawsuit was filed against the decedent’s family practice physician and an emergency medicine physician who provided treatment at Alexian Brothers Medical Center. The Cook County settlement was reached before this failure to diagnose cancer case went to trial.
The decedent’s estate claimed that the Alexian Brothers emergency room physician had misread a chest x-ray taken of the decedent. However, the same film was correctly interpreted by a radiologist the following day as showing a lesion on his lung. The hospital failed to notify the decedent regarding the discrepancy in the interpretation. The decedent’s family physician became involved in the malpractice after receiving a faxed copy of the correctly interpreted radiology report, but still failed to notify the patient of the relevant findings.
As a result of the incorrect reading the man’s lung cancer went undiagnosed for 13 months. Because of the lengthy delay when his lung cancer was eventually diagnosed it was in Stage IV, giving him an extremely poor prognosis. The decedent died about three years after the initial emergency room visit.
Delays in diagnosing all types of cancer can drastically reduce the patient’s chance at survival, as seen in this case. It is important for both physicians and patients to perform regular diagnostic exams to screen for various types of cancer and to provide correct and timely results.