Physician Settles For $875,000 In Wrongful Death Claim Where Patient Died of Colon Cancer Because Physician Depended On Unfinished Colonoscopy

Certain people are at risk of having or getting some forms of cancer. With colon cancer, for example, those with certain conditions (such as chron’s disease), with certain symptoms (such as blood in the stool), or with family members who have had colon cancer (especially first degree relatives) are at risk. If an individual both has a family history and in addition has complaints of symptoms for example rectal bleeding, doctors generally concur that a colonoscopy is necessary so as to find out whether the person has colon cancer or rule it out. In addition to testing individuals who are at a greater risk level, physicians also generally advocate that asymptomatic patients who are fifty or older go through routine screening in an effort to detect any cancer that might be developing in the colon before it reaches an advanced stage.

In case the doctor conducting the colonoscopy is unable to check out the entire length of the colon it is feasible that there could be cancer present in the unvisualized areas. Any time obstructions or poor preparation render incomplete visualization of parts of the colon, the individual needs to be informed and the physician should advise the individual that the colonoscopy ought to be repeated or an alternative, for example a virtual colonoscopy, be considered. In case the doctor does not let the patient know that the colonoscopy was no finished or that there was poor visibility and suggest appropriate follow up too much time may pass before the patient begins displaying symptoms or gets another screening procedure.

One medical malpractice claim that was reported involved a woman who died of colon cancer in her mid forties because her cancer was not diagnosed until it was at an advanced stage even though her doctors for years had information that she was at high risk. Consider her medical history. The woman had a family history of colon cancer. Throughout the length of six years, doctors did three colonospies on this patient. On numerous occasions she continued to report to her physicians that she was having pain in the abdomen and that she observed blood in her stool. At least once the woman’s blood work also recorded that she was anemic. The 3 are possible symptoms of colon cancer.

The paperwork from two of the colonoscopies indicated that the visualization was weak of the ascending colon and cecum as the scope could not be passed beyond the transverse colon. But, this same physician continued to assure the patient that she did not need to be concerned. The doctor kept saying to the patient that her symptoms were caused by hemorroids, at no time informing her that it had not been possible to check the entire colon.

The woman was eventually diagnosed with colon cancer when her tumor was discovered during exploratory surgery so as to uncover the cause of her problems. A large portion of her intestines was removed as a consequence of cancer. Chemotherapy followed but the patient eventually passed away from the cancer. Due to the doctor’s failure to follow up on her symptoms in light of 2 incomplete colonoscopies the woman’s surviving family filed a lawsuit. The law firm handled the claim was able to report that they were able to obtain a recovery for the family in the amount of $ 875,000

Physicians use diagnostic tests so as to find or rule out specific diseases including certain kinds of cancers. For example, the colonoscopy is a procedure used to search for or exclude colon cancer. Yet the result of the test is only as good as the exactness with which the test was performed. For the procedure a physician inserts a scope to see the inside of the colon so as to ascertain whether there are any polyps or tumors in the colon

If the full colon is not visualized, as in the claim previously mentioned, a physician should not rely on it to exclude cancer. Doing so makes about as much sense as only listening to one of your lungs, examining only one of your eyes, or ordering only part of a complete blood count. Should the patient does have cancer this may bring about a delay in diagnosis that allows the cancer time to grow and advance to an incurable stage. Under such circumstances the doctor who relied on such a partial procedure may be liable under a medical malpractice or even wrongful death claim.

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