ALLEGED NEGLIGENT DIAGNOSIS & TREATMENT
Specialty: Oncology/Corporation (ARNP)
Allegation: A 43-year-old female alleged she was wrongly diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) following a suspicious bone marrow biopsy. The patient underwent arsenic trioxide treatment for a period of six months. Following a second bone marrow biopsy, which was normal, her treatment was stopped. A third bone marrow biopsy confirmed there was no evidence of MDS and the patient was ultimately diagnosed with thalassemia. The patient claimed unnecessary treatment resulting in medical expenses that she was unable to pay, damaged credit rating, and having to endure unnecessary and unpleasant treatment and the emotional distress in believing she would die from MDS. The patient had no residual physical injuries from the arsenic trioxide treatment.
Plaintiff Attorney: Thomas Vertetis, Pfau, Cochran, Vertetis, Amala, Tacoma, WA
Plaintiff Experts: Paul Weiden, Oncology, Seattle, WA; Samuel Waxman, MD, Oncology, New York, NY
Defense Attorneys: Rebecca Ringer, Floyd, Pflueger & Ringer, Seattle, WA; Amy Forbis, Bennett, Bigelow & Leedom, Seattle, WA
Defense Experts: Robert McCroskey, MD, Oncology, Puyallup, WA; James Berenson, MD, Oncology, West Hollywood, CA; Dan Douer, MD, Oncology, Los Angeles, CA
Result: Hung jury as to the physician defendant; defense verdict for the corporation. Case later settled on behalf of the defendant physician for less than what was offered prior to trial. King County Superior Court, Judge Barnett.
Cost to Defend: $418,627
ALLEGED NEGLIGENT SURGERY
Specialty: Podiatric Surgery
Allegation: A 69-year-old male had painful hammertoe deformities of the right foot. Conservative treatment by his primary care physician failed to relieve his symptoms. The patient sought surgical consultation and was advised the options were to proceed to surgery or do nothing and that there was a risk of an unsuccessful repair. The patient consented to surgery and underwent an uneventful arthroplasty, with K-wire fixation on the second, third, and fourth toes. Postoperatively, the patient complained of worsening pain and discomfort in his foot. He ultimately sought additional opinions and underwent a second unsuccessful surgery. The patient alleged inadequate informed consent and claimed that had nonsurgical treatment been utilized, his complaints would have been relieved. The patient claimed permanent pain and disability.
Plaintiff Attorney: William P. Pickett, The Law Office of William P. Pickett
Plaintiff Expert: Michael DiGiacomo, DPM, Oakland, CA
Defense Attorney: Jeffrey Kreutz, Miller, Mertens, Comfort, Wagar & Kreutz, Kennewick, WA
Defense Expert: Thomas Chang, DPM, San Francisco, CA
Result: Defense verdict. Yakima County Superior Court, Judge Gavin.
Cost to Defend: $139,019
ALLEGED DELAYED DIAGNOSIS
Specialty: General Surgery
Allegation: A 47-year-old female had been followed by her internist and gynecologist for a right breast lump since 2003. In December 2004 the patient underwent her annual mammogram and ultrasound, which were negative. In January 2005 the patient was referred for consultation, and breast densities were noted. In conjunction with this consultation and knowledge of the previous month’s normal mammogram and ultrasound, the patient was advised to repeat the mammogram in one year. The patient was also told to return if there were any breast changes. Coincidentally, during the patient’s physical examination, a right thigh neoplasm was noted and a biopsy was performed that day. In October 2005 another lesion was noted, which was excised and noted to be without pathology. The patient saw her primary care provider in November 2005, and had a normal breast exam. In January 2006 the patient’s annual mammogram was normal. In October 2006 a right diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound revealed suspicious changes from previous mammograms. The patient underwent a right breast biopsy and was diagnosed with invasive lobular carcinoma. The patient was scheduled for a mastectomy, but a previously scheduled hysterectomy for uterine bleeding revealed cancer in the abdomen and pelvis. The mastectomy was cancelled and instead the patient underwent chemotherapy. The patient claimed an 18-month delay in diagnosis of breast cancer resulting in past and future medical expenses, lost wages, emotional distress, and lost chance of survival.
Plaintiff Attorney: Russell Odell, Bellevue, WA
Plaintiff Expert: Stephen Karp, MD, Oncology, Burlington, MA
Defense Attorneys: Rebecca Ringer and Dylan Cohon, Floyd, Pflueger & Ringer, Seattle, WA
Defense Experts: Cary Kaufman, MD, General Surgery, Bellingham, WA; Rodney Pommier, MD, Oncology, Portland, OR
Result: Directed verdict for defendants. (This is a rare situation. The judge ruled as a matter of law that the plaintiff had failed to prove her case, and directed that a defense verdict be entered.) Snohomish County Superior Court, Judge Lukas.
Cost to Defend: $121,238