On July 19, 2018, a Cook County, Illinois medical malpractice jury returned its verdict in favor of the plaintiffs in the amount of $12 million in a medical malpractice case against a radiologist and two family practice physicians for their alleged medical negligence in failing to diagnose a patient’s lung cancer when it was curable. The Illinois medical malpractice plaintiffs alleged that the negligent delay in diagnosing the decedent’s lung cancer allowed it to spread beyond her lungs and cause her death.
The decedent was 67-years-old in July 2010, with a 35-year history of smoking, when she went to a hospital emergency room with bronchitis. The defendant radiologist read her chest x-ray as showing a nonspecific density in the upper lobe of her left lung that he interpreted as being most likely lung scarring, and he recommended a follow up chest x-ray in three months. The decedent had already been discharged from the emergency room with a prescription for antibiotics for her bronchitis by the time the final radiology report was read. The decedent was not instructed by the emergency room to follow up in three months.
The chest x-ray report was faxed to the decedent’s family practice physician, who saw the decedent in the office three weeks after her emergency room visit. According to the trial testimony of the decedent’s adult daughter, who accompanied her mother to her doctor’s appointment, the defendant family practice physician told the decedent that the lung scarring found in the chest x-ray was nothing to worry about and the defendant did not order a follow up chest x-ray. Nonetheless, the defendant noted in the decedent’s medical records the abnormal chest x-ray finding.
The decedent returned to her doctor’s office in June 2011 for her annual physical but by that time the defendant family practice physician had left the practice and the decedent was seen by another family practice physician. According to the Illinois medical malpractice plaintiffs, the second family practice physician failed to review the decedent’s medical records and thus failed to follow up with regard to the abnormal chest x-ray finding from the prior year.
The decedent was asymptomatic until the middle of 2012, at which time she was diagnosed with incurable metastatic lung cancer. According to the plaintiffs’ medical experts, the decedent’s lung cancer was treatable and curable had the proper diagnosis been made as late as the June 2011 visit to her family practice physician.
The decedent died one and a half years after her diagnosis, at the age of 70.
The decedent’s two adult children filed their Illinois medical malpractice wrongful death lawsuit against the radiologist and both family practice physicians. The defense argued that the density shown in the chest x-ray was not cancer and also argued that the decedent was instructed to get a follow up chest x-ray, which she failed to get. The defense medical experts told the jury that the decedent’s cancer was not a primary lung cancer but had metastasized to the decedent’s chest wall and was never in her lung.
The Illinois medical malpractice jury rejected the defense arguments and awarded $2 million for wrongful death, $1 million for disfigurement, and $4.5 million each to the decedent’s children against the defendant radiologist and both defendant family practice physicians.
If you or a loved one may have been injured as a result of misdiagnosed cancer in Illinois or in another U.S. state, you should promptly consult with an Illinois cancer malpractice lawyer, or a cancer misdiagnosis malpractice lawyer in your state, who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you or your loved one in a cancer medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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