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Hospital's Failure to Diagnose Lung Cancer: Mom Has a Year to Live

Medical malpractice, of course, can happen to anyone — even people who are the sole support of other people. Tragically, that appears to have been the case for a New York woman who was just diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer, which has metastasized to her liver, spine, and brain. Although she sought treatment for chest pain, a chronic cough, shortness of breath and wheezing several times in the past two years, her doctors apparently never bothered to read a 2010 radiologist’s report that suggested she had cancer.

Now, their failure to diagnose the cancer has left her with only six months to a year to live.

She is a single mom with a 15-year-old autistic daughter. “She is going to be left without a mother,” she told reporters. “What is going to happen to my little girl?”

According to press reports, she first went to a local hospital in 2010 because she had chest pains. She was treated by a first-year resident, who ordered an EKG and a chest X-ray but apparently did not read those tests or did not know how. He told her to take an over-the-counter painkiller and to follow up with her doctor.

From the radiologist’s written report, it is clear that he had found a suspicious nodule in her lung that was about two centimeters in size. The radiologist recommended a follow-up X-ray within the next three months, along with a CT scan if the nodule was still of concern. That recommendation was never mentioned to the patient at that time or at any of her subsequent visits to the hospital or her primary care physician, which she continued due to a chronic cough.

The test results seemed to have disappeared into a void, and her own doctor and the hospital continued to treat her for asthma.

In May 2012, she returned to the emergency room complaining of wheezing and shortness of breath. A new chest X-ray showed the nodule in her lung had doubled in size and was clearly cancerous. Worse, it had metastasized to other organs, making it extremely unlikely she could survive.

Of all types of medical malpractice, failure to diagnose cancer can be the most deadly. This unspeakable litany of errors by numerous medical malpractice may have just cost a woman her life, and a child her mother.

Source: News Inferno, “Botched Hospital Care Leaves Single Mom With Six Months to Live,” Cynthia A. Diaz-Shephard, Feb. 13, 2013