The 50 year old college professor had annual mammograms as advised by the National Cancer Institute. A radiologist read her mammogram as showing a possible small cyst that required a follow-up examination. The mammogram was repeated and identified a small mass that was likely cancer and required a biopsy. The radiologist, however, described the mass in the text of his report and not in the one sentence summary.
The treating OB/GYN only read the summary and did not read the entire report. No biopsy was ordered. The mass had grown dramatically by the time the next regular mammogram was taken.
The client would have had a much better chance for a cure if the cancer had been diagnosed in a timely manner. The parties agreed that the OB/GYN was negligent but the defense experts argued that the year delay did not “increase the risk” of avoiding harm, despite the fact that by the time of trial, the client’s breast cancer had become advanced, spreading to her spine and then other organs.
The case settled during trial for a substantial amount.