$750 Thousand Settlement in Delayed Diagnosis of Lung Cancer Lawsuit

2019 Confidential Settlement

In early 2011 the plaintiff was a fifty year old man with a history of smoking and COPD who had a 7.8mm single pulmonary nodule identified in his lung by x-ray. After a repeat chest x-ray confirmed the presence of the nodule, the plaintiff’s primary care physicians (MD and NP) referred the plaintiff for a CT scan which revealed an irregular subtly spiculated 11mmx10mm nodule in the lower left lung that appeared amenable to biopsy. A subsequent PET scan reported as borderline and unable to rule out malignancy due to the size of the module and the radiologist recommended a follow-up CT.

Thereafter the plaintiff was referred to a thoracic surgeon who ordered two repeat chest x-ray but failed to offer plaintiff a biopsy and failed to order the repeat CT scan as recommended by the radiologist. After the second repeat chest x-ray the plaintiff was informed that everything was fine by his primary care NP and he was discharged from the care of the thoracic surgeon in the fall of 2011. The directions from the thoracic surgeon to the primary care physician indicated that the plaintiff should receive follow-up chest x-rays.

In the subsequent 2.5 years, the plaintiff was seen by his primary care NP or MD at least 10 times yet no follow-up imaging was ordered. It was not until March 2014 that the plaintiff’s NP ordered a chest x-ray. That x-ray revealed that the plaintiff’s lung nodule had more than quadrupled in size and was concerning for cancer. 

Plaintiffs’ experts were prepared to testify that the NP and primary care physician MD were negligent when they failed to order follow-up CT scans of the plaintiff’s lung at the intervals of 3, 6, 12, and 24 months from the identification of the lung nodule given the plaintiff’s intermediate probability of cancer based on his smoking and COPD history. Further, the plaintiffs’ experts were prepared to testify that the defendant thoracic surgeon was negligent when he failed to offer the plaintiff a biopsy of the lung nodule and ordered chest x-rays instead of CT scans, and failed to order serial CT scan follow-up at 3, 6, 12, and 24 months. Plaintiffs’ experts were further prepared to testify that the delay in diagnosing the plaintiff’s lung cancer allowed the cancer to progress from stage 1a to stage 1b and further due to the increased size the cancer required chemotherapy treatment, which caused severe side effects to the plaintiff. Plaintiffs’ experts were prepared to testify that if the defendants had complied with the standard of care the plaintiff’s lung cancer would have been diagnosed before it had progressed in stage and before it would have required chemotherapy. Finally plaintiffs’ experts were prepared to testify that the plaintiff’s chance for a cure of his cancer was diminished by the delay in diagnosing it.

The case settled for $750 Thousand after a mediation session.

Halstrom Law Offices, P.C. attorneys Frederic Halstrom and Ingrid Halstrom represented the plaintiff in this matter.