A 47-year-old former emergency room nurse recently obtained a $21.6 million Florida medical malpractice verdict against an ultrasound technician and the doctor who was interpreting the ultrasound for their alleged medical negligence in failing to diagnose her breast cancer. The judge in the Florida medical malpractice case determined that the ultrasound company was 85% liable to the plaintiff and the interpreting doctor was 15% responsible for the delay in diagnosing the woman’s now advanced, terminal breast cancer.
The plaintiff is originally from Haiti, where she returned on medical missions after becoming a nurse in the United States in order to teach Haitian women how to perform breast self-examinations for lumps. When the single mother of two children discovered a lump in her left breast, she did not believe it was cancer and eight doctors subsequently failed to diagnose her disease.
The plaintiff underwent numerous ultrasounds and had a mammogram over the course of nearly a year that failed to result in the proper diagnosis. It was not until she finally had a biopsy that her inflammatory breast cancer was discovered. She then underwent a double mastectomy to treat her breast cancer.
Once her inflammatory breast cancer was finally diagnosed, chemotherapy was started but had to be stopped because her body could not handle the treatment. Radiation therapy has sought to address recurrences but her disease is incurable.
The plaintiff had settled her Florida medical malpractice claims against others whom she alleged to have been negligent with regard to the diagnosis of her breast cancer but two defendants, an ultrasound company and the doctor who interpreted her ultrasound, remained as the defendants in her recent Florida medical malpractice trial. The plaintiff’s medical malpractice claims against the defendants focused on a follow-up ultrasound during which the ultrasound technician allegedly did not point the transducer over the area where the lump was located and the defendant doctor who was looking at the ultrasound images was allegedly unaware of the woman’s past medical history and her prior ultrasounds and medical tests when he diagnosed a benign left breast (the defendant doctor blamed the ultrasound technician for his failure to diagnosis a suspicious lump in the plaintiff’s left breast).
As a result of the failure to image the lump and the defendant doctor’s misdiagnosis, the plaintiff’s primary medical providers went in a different direction with regard to her medical care, including prescribing antibiotics that failed to work and considering testing her for an autoimmune disease. It was not until July 2014 that a second opinion diagnosed the plaintiff’s breast cancer but by then it was too late for a chance at a cure.
After she obtained the $21.6 million Florida medical malpractice verdict, the plaintiff advised, “When you go to a place to get your test done, when they are doing it, make sure that you are talking to a doctor.” Her attorney stated, “If the medical system had done its job, there would have been a timely diagnosis, there would have been timely treatment. And the outcome would have been different.”
The Florida medical malpractice defendants have expressed the intention to appeal.
If your cancer was misdiagnosed in Florida or in another U.S. state, you should promptly consult with a Florida medical malpractice attorney, or a medical malpractice attorney in your state, who may investigate your cancer misdiagnosis claim for you and represent you in a cancer malpractice case, if appropriate.
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