Failure to Diagnose Stomach Cancer
The Floods Case
In 2008, Mrs. Floods had abdominal pain and other symptoms, which led her to be worked up by her doctor. The doctor obtained a biopsy from Mrs. Floods’ stomach to check for suspected stomach cancer. The doctor made slides of the biopsy and sent the biopsy slides to an out-of-state lab in Texas. The out-of-state lab’s pathologist read the slides under a microscope and sent back a report concluding that the biopsy slides did not show cancer. About 1 year later, Mrs. Floods was diagnosed with advanced stage stomach cancer, stage IIIB. Less than 1 in 5 Patients with stage IIIB cancer live for 5 years. The prognosis is much better if the stomach cancer is diagnosed sooner.
Mrs. Floods came to our office, suspicious for why her cancer was not diagnosed sooner, since she had been diligent in reporting each symptom to her PCP and gastroenterologist, and submitting to all recommended tests, including a surgery to obtain a biopsy of a lesion in her abdomen. We obtained the pathology slides which were made from the biopsied stomach tissue; and then had those slides examined by a nationally renowned pathologist who specialized in stomach cancers. Our consultant confirmed that Mrs. Floods’ biopsy slide was indeed misread by the pathologist at the out-of-state lab; that one of the slides that was reviewed showed a cancer that should have been identified and surgically removed. Instead, the cancer went untreated and caused Mrs. Floods to have an advanced stage of stomach cancer by the time it was diagnosed.
As a result of the lab’s negligence, Mrs. Floods’ cancer was diagnosed 1 year later than it should have been diagnosed. The chance of cure for stomach cancer is good if caught early, but because Mrs. Floods’ cancer was negligently missed by the lab and Mrs. Floods’ cancer was allowed to grow in her body an extra year. That year delay in diagnosing Mrs. Floods’ cancer has significantly increased the likelihood that she will die from her stomach cancer.
We filed suit against the lab on Mrs. Floods’ behalf and on behalf of her husband and children. That suit was settled by the lab for a substantial amount, shortly before trial.