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Medical Malpractice: Man Died After Delayed Diagnosis

A 49-year-old man sought treatment for thyroid condition under treatment at a Veterans’ Hospital. The man had three statutory dependents: his wife, a step-daughter, and a step-granddaughter. The man died of thyroid cancer a year and a half later. The ensuing Medical Malpractice and Wrongful Death suit was settled for $1 million.

Man Died Due to Delayed Diagnosis - Altizer Law

ER Evaluation

In evaluating the symptoms that led the man to the hospital, the doctor ordered a thyroid scan and an ultrasound. The scan revealed a large “cold nodule.” Hot nodules are almost always benign, cold nodules might be malignant. The scan, however, cannot differentiate between benign and malignant nodules. The physician did not order a biopsy or conduct other tests to eliminate the possibility that the nodule was malignant. The physician diagnosed hyperthyroidism, and prescribed medication to manage the condition.

Roughly 15 months later, the patient returned to the Emergency Department because his thyroid was quickly growing in size. A brief time after his admission to the hospital, he was diagnosed with metastatic thyroid cancer. In point of fact, the patient had two types of thyroid cancer. One type of cancer was non-aggressive and had a survival rate of nearly 100 percent. The other type of cancer was aggressive, may develop from the non-aggressive type, and has a high rate of death. By the time this diagnosis was made, it was too late for surgical intervention. The hospital provided palliative care until his death (approximately 1 month later).

The patient’s attorney argued that the first physician failed to provide care that met standard of care definition. Further, they argued that had the thyroid cancer been recognized and diagnosed earlier it could have been treated and he would not have died. The defense attorney failed to address the standard of care issues and argued that the outcome of the cancer would have been the same if he had been diagnosed earlier because he already had cancer.

There was also a dispute over the value of the man’s lost wages.

The case settled a few days before trial was to begin, and the man’s family was awarded $1 million, due to the physician’s failure to provide a timely diagnosis of the cancer.

Between 2004 and 2014, medical malpractice settlement was paid to 42,507 people over a physician’s  failure to diagnose or wrong diagnosis. [Source: National Practitioner Data Bank Public Use File, Health Resources and Services Administration, Bureau of Health Professions, Division of Practitioner Data Banks, 2004 – 2014.]

If you or a loved one has been harmed by a physician’s failure to diagnose a condition or by wrong diagnosis, call the experienced attorneys of Altizer Law, P.C. Our clients choose us because we are trusted attorneys and because they know we will fight for them.