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Failure to Diagnose Ovarian Cancer

$750,000 – Medical Malpractice/Negligence

Facts

Patient was never informed of a mass on her right ovary found during CT scan of her appendix. One year later, she was diagnosed with metastatic ovarian cancer.

38-year-old Jane Doe was seen at an Urgent Care Clinic with symptoms of severe right upper quadrant abdominal pain. A CT scan was suspicious for appendicitis, but also revealed an adnexal mass on the right ovary. The radiologist recommended an ultrasound to determine if her pain was related to the ovary or appendix, which came back positive for complex cysts on the ovary and acute appendicitis. Plaintiff was never informed of the abnormal findings related to her right ovary. Her friend who was with her at the Urgent Care confirmed there was no mention of an abnormal ovary finding. Ms. Doe underwent an appendectomy but was never told to follow up on the ovarian finding. At a follow-up appointment, no one mentioned her ovary.

A year later, she went to her primary care doctor’s office complaining of abdominal cramping. A workup revealed that a mass filled her entire pelvis, sidewall to sidewall and extended up into the lower abdomen and then along the anterior abdominal wall into the omentum. The mass was also noted to envelop loops of the distal ileum and rectosigmoid colon and was fixed to the rectum and rectovaginal septum on rectal exam. A chest CT also showed possible left lower pleural metastasis.

Allegations/Contentions

Plaintiff alleged that had she been told in the Urgent Care visit that she had an abnormal finding on her right ovary, she would have immediately sought additional care and treatment, that her ovarian cancer would have been diagnosed at an earlier stage and that her chances of survival beyond five years would have been greater that 50%. She alleges that there was a complete breakdown in communications with each of the doctors assuming that the finding had been discussed with her.

Defendants denied that their care and treatment of plaintiff was below the standard of care, or that it failed to meet accepted standards for adequate medical care. Specifically, defendants disputed that the Urgent Care doctor failed to mention the abnormal ovarian findings during the Urgent Care visit, and further stated that the general surgeon had no duty to discuss the ovarian mass with plaintiff. Defendants also disputed the origin of the cancer that eventually was diagnosed.

Injuries

Plaintiff underwent chemotherapy followed by a debulking surgery to remove the massive tumor. According to the defendant’s medical clinic’s pathology report, the tumor originated from the right ovary. Plaintiff was ultimately diagnosed with Stage 3C ovarian cancer. According to her current gynecologic oncologist, plaintiff had Stage 4 ovarian cancer based on the pleural masses seen on the CT, which were not biopsied.

After completing her ovarian cancer treatment, plaintiff palpated a mass on her breast. She was diagnosed with Stage 2A breast cancer and underwent a double mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation. Her breast cancer was in remission. However, the cancer which originated from the right ovary recently aggressively returned. She recently passed away.

Damages

Plaintiff had worked as a mail carrier for the United States Postal Service for over 12 years. Plaintiff claimed total economic damages ranging between $1,917,138 and $2,051,293.

Special Notes

Plaintiff made a CCP §998 statutory offer to compromise/settle in the amount of $1,447,500, which was rejected by the defendants. Before trial call, defendants offered $500,000. The case resolved during jury selection for $750,000.


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