The family of a 70-year-old woman who died from kidney cancer that had metastasized to other parts of her body and led to her death received a medical malpractice verdict in the amount of $10 million from a South Carolina medical malpractice jury that determined that the defendant urologist and his medical practice had breached the standard of care in treating a mass on the woman’s left kidney that increased in size over time and was finally diagnosed as cancer.
The South Carolina medical malpractice trial lasted one week after which the jury deliberated for about three hours before awarding the woman’s spouse and their three children $10 million, which was substantially larger than the $250,000 that the defendants reportedly offered before trial to settle the South Carolina medical malpractice claims against them.
The Underlying Facts
The woman was under the care of her primary care physician and the defendant urologist in 2010. Both physicians were following the woman for a noncancerous growth found on the woman’s left kidney. The defendant urologist initially considered performing surgery to remove part or all of the woman’s left kidney but instead delayed the surgery and other medical treatment, according to the South Carolina medical malpractice lawsuit.
The woman’s primary care physician noted in April 2011 that the woman’s left kidney may ultimately require partial or complete removal, and recommended at that time that she follow up in six months. However, in August 2011, the woman complained to her primary care physician that she was having low back pain. The primary care physician ordered a CT scan that showed that the mass on the woman’s left kidney had grown. The radiologist recommended follow up or further evaluation to rule out malignancy. However, that recommendation was reportedly not told to the defendant urologist.
The woman’s primary care physician ordered another CT scan in June 2012 that found that the mass on the woman’s left kidney had continued to grow. The radiologist who interpreted that CT scan reportedly advised that the mass was “absolutely malignant.” Unfortunately, by that time, the cancer had spread from the woman’s left kidney to other parts of her body. The woman came under the care of a cancer specialist but by that time her cancer was untreatable. She died on October 1, 2012.
The South Carolina medical malpractice wrongful death lawsuit contended that surgical intervention as late as August 2011 would more likely than not avoided the woman’s death and that the defendant urologist negligently failed to timely follow-up and provide proper and timely medical care for the woman.
The woman’s primary care physician was originally named as a defendant in the family’s South Carolina medical malpractice wrongful death case but was dismissed after settling the claims against him in the amount of $350,000, without admitting fault on his part.
After the South Carolina medical malpractice jury returned its verdict in favor of the woman’s family, the plaintiffs’ South Carolina medical malpractice lawyer stated, “Patients really trust their doctors, and they put their lives in their hands. Most of the time, it works. But what this case says is, when that trust is lost, juries get upset. Our system is designed [as] a message so others will sit up and say, ‘We better pay more attention.'”
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