The Johns Case
The plaintiff, a gentleman in his 60s, experienced a history of urinary difficulties and was seen by a practicing urologist. This urologist instituted a treatment plan including semi-annual examinations and blood tests to ensure that any development of prostate cancer would be caught in its earliest stage. To rule out prostate cancer, the urologist performed a biopsy of the prostate gland and submitted the pathology materials to the defendant corporation for a pathological evaluation.
A pathologist, employed by the corporate defendant, examined the prostate tissue and prepared a pathology report denying the presence of cancer cells. The corporate defendant then submitted the pathologist’s report to the urologist for the specific purpose of assisting the urologist in the treatment of the plaintiff and ruling out cancer of the prostate. Based upon this pathology report, the urologist advised the plaintiff that the biopsy was negative, that there was no cancerous tissue in the prostate and that no change in treatment was required.
Approximately two years later, the corporate defendants became suspicious of the pathologist’s prostate slide results and had the slides re-read. It was not until a full two years later that the defendants advised the urologist that the prostate tissue biopsied two years earlier had been misread and misdiagnosed by their pathologist and that the proper diagnosis should have been adeno carcinoma and hi-grade prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia.
Following this notice, the plaintiff’s prostate was again biopsied. Prostate cancer was confirmed and had progressed during the two year delay caused by defendants’ negligence. Thereafter, the plaintiff underwent a radical excision of his prostate gland causing a dramatic change in his lifestyle and marriage. Despite the removal of the prostate, his blood PSA levels are ominously and rapidly rising indicating that his cancer remains.
A lawsuit was filed in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania against the defendant corporation and its employee pathologist seeking damages for allowing his prostate cancer to grow, multiply, recur and metastasize, thus increasing his risk of serious illness and death. The plaintiff also sought damages for causing a dramatic change in his lifestyle and marriage. Experts for the defendants opined that, although there was a 24-month delay in diagnosis of the plaintiff’s prostate cancer, his management options remained the same and that the side effects of the radical surgery that he had to undergo would have been the same without the delay. Prior to trial, this case was resolved for a substantial settlement.