2807 Case Study: Failure to Diagnose Cervical Cancer | Harry S. Cohen & Associates

Failure to Diagnose Cervical Cancer

Filed under Cancer Cases

The Grange Case

When Ms. Grange was in her early twenties, her gynecologist suggested that she begin to get a yearly Pap test, a test for the presence of abnormal cervical cells which can help detect the early presence of cervical cancer. In January of 2003, when Ms. Grange was 24, she had a yearly Pap test, which was sent to a lab for screening. The lab read the Pap test, and reported that there were no abnormal cells.

A year later, in February 2004, Ms. Grange again went for her yearly gynecological exam and had a Pap test performed, and again, the Pap test was sent to a lab in Pittsburgh to be read by a cytotechnologist. The cytotechnologist read the Pap test and reported the test as normal.

The following year, in 2005, Ms. Grange again had her yearly exam, had a Pap test done, and the Pap test was sent to the same lab. Again, a cytotechnologist read Ms. Grange’s Pap test, and reported it as normal.

In the fall of 2005, Ms. Grange began to experience abnormal bleeding, and went to see her gynecologist who simply ordered a change in her birth control pills. While an exam was necessary, Ms. Grange claimed the doctor failed to perform a gynecological exam.

A few months later, in January of 2006, Mrs. Grange was diagnosed with Stage III(b) Cervical Cancer. Ms. Grange had to undergo surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. In addition, because the cancer spread, Ms. Grange had to have her ovaries removed, and lost the ability to have children.

Ms. Grange contacted us, and we retrieved the Pap test slides, and our expert pathologist reviewed the slides and they revealed that in 2003 and 2004, the slides had abnormal cells which were not reported. In 2005 the slides showed not only abnormal cells, but that there were malignant cancer cells present on the cervical slide which were misread by the cytotechnologists at the lab.

A lawsuit was filed in Allegheny County alleging that the delay in diagnosing Ms. Grange’s cervical cancer eliminated the chance for an earlier diagnosis, and Ms. Grange’s ability to have children. In addition, by not diagnosing the cancer earlier, they eliminated a chance for earlier intervention and a better chance at survival was eliminated.

The depositions of the cytotechnologists were taken, and they admitted that if they saw even one (1) abnormal cell, they were required to report the Pap test as abnormal, and that a pathologist should review it; however, they agreed that this was not done in Ms. Grange’s case.

The attorneys for the lab argued that the slides were read properly as normal. The attorneys for the doctor who failed to do an examination claimed that Ms. Grange had deferred her exam.

The case proceeded through discovery, and before a jury was selected, the case was settled for a substantial, confidential sum.

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