A South Carolina medical malpractice jury has awarded $6.2 million to a woman whose suspicious mammogram was read as normal and who was later diagnosed with advanced breast cancer. The jury also awarded the woman’s husband $700,000 for his loss of consortium claim.
The South Carolina medical malpractice plaintiffs have two school-aged children who will grow up without their mother due to the negligence of the defendant radiologist who failed to suggest that an abnormality on their mother’s breast x-ray should have been further investigated, which would have led to a much earlier diagnosis of her breast cancer.
The 47-year-old woman had a mammogram performed in South Carolina in 2008 for which the standard of care required the defendant radiologist to recommend immediate further diagnostic investigation, according to the South Carolina woman’s medical malpractice claim. The defendants, a South Carolina radiologist who read the woman’s mammogram and his medical practice, denied that they were medically negligently or responsible for the late-diagnosis of the woman’s breast cancer, and they further contended that they complied with the applicable standard of care.
The plaintiffs alleged in their South Carolina medical malpractice lawsuit that had the defendant radiologist timely diagnosed the woman’s breast cancer, she would have had an 80% to 100% probability of a cure. However, because her breast cancer was not diagnosed until 2010, her breast cancer will be fatal and her anticipated life expectancy is only another two to three years.
After the South Carolina medical malpractice jury rendered its verdict in favor of the plaintiffs in a very conservative South Carolina jurisdiction, the plaintiffs’ medical malpractice lawyer stated, “This case was not popular, especially in Charleston. But when people won’t accept responsibility, you go to the court system. Twelve jurors understood that.”
According to the American Cancer Society, screening mammograms do not find about 1 in 5 breast cancers. So-called false negative mammograms (where the mammogram does not indicate cancer but cancer exists in the breast) occur most often among women who have dense breasts and more often in younger women than older women (breast tissue can become less dense as women age).
A false-positive mammogram is where the mammogram looks abnormal but there is no cancer present. About one-half of women who have annual mammograms over a ten-year period will have a false-positive finding. Women who are younger, have dense breasts, have had breast biopsies, have a family history of breast cancer, or are taking estrogen are more likely to have false-positive mammograms. The odds of having a false-positive mammogram result are highest for the first mammogram and are lower for subsequent mammograms.
If you or a family member may have been harmed due to a misread mammogram in South Carolina or in another U.S. state, you should promptly seek the advice of a local medical malpractice lawyer in South Carolina or in your U.S. state who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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