Physician Fails to Diagnose Aggressive Cancer

Joseph O'Neill

Written by
— Updated on May 12, 2016

Cardiothoracic Surgery Expert WitnessThis case takes place in New York and involves a failure to timely diagnose cancer despite unresolved symptoms of abdominal pain and significant weight loss prior to diagnosis. The patient first presented to the defendant physician as a healthy, active female – she was a non-smoker who did not drink and had very minimal past medical history. She presented with complaints of pain and weight loss to the defendant physician, who continued to treat the patient when her cancer was finally identified. Dozens of visits occurred during this period and various indications in the patient’s chart indicated that a more thorough workup was warranted. By the time her cancer was discovered it had a significant diameter and the patient’s treating oncological surgeon informed her that it had been growing for several years.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Do you routinely treat patients who present with the symptoms described above?
  • 2. Have you ever referred a patient for imaging studies - which led to the diagnosis of cancer?
  • 3. Have you ever served as an expert witness on a case involving a failure to thoroughly workup a patient with cancer?
  • 4. Have you ever been the target of a malpractice claim?

Expert Witness Response E-007494

I routinely treat patients who present with the described symptoms in this case. I have referred patients for imaging studies leading to the diagnosis of cancer — it is hard to believe in this day and age that someone with weight loss would not get an abdominal CT or MRI in 5 years. The patient’s symptoms should have warranted additional testing. She would have benefited from a more positive outcome if she her medical care and guidance were not below the standard of care. I have served as an expert witness in GI cancer cases that the gastroenterologist failed to diagnose. I would be happy to review this case.

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