Gair, Gair, Conason, Rubinowitz, Bloom, Hershenhorn, Steigman & Mackauf is a New York Plaintiff's personal injury law firm specializing in automobile accidents, construction accidents, medical malpractice, products liability, police misconduct and all types of New York personal injury litigation.

Articles Posted in Failure to Diagnose Cancer

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jbOur partner, New York Medical Malpractice Attorney Jeff Bloom is helping our client Elissa McMahon in her crusade to get Lavern’s law passed (see previous post).  After she discovered that doctors in a New York hospital failed to diagnose cancer, Elissa McMahon was unable to bring a lawsuit because the statute of limitations had passed. In New York the statute of limitations for victims of medical malpractice starts at the time of the occurrence of the medical error. Lavern’s Law is a proposal to have the statute of limitations start at the time of the discovery of the error. This law would allow patients like our client, Elissa McMahon, to bring a lawsuit against the hospital which failed to diagnose her cancer. Most States in the US have similar laws. New York State is one of only six States to start the statute of limitations at the time of the occurrence of the error. Talking about Elissa McMahon’s case, Jeffrey Bloom told the NY Daily News “How could she possibly not have a right to bring a lawsuit when the statute of limitations ran (out) before she even knew she was sick?”

In 2012 Elissa McMahon went to Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City for a fibroid removal. At the time of the surgery, pathology slides from Lenox Hill Hospital clearly indicated that the patient had cancer but doctors failed to diagnose it. Two years later she went to a doctor after suffering from severe back pain. She was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. 6 months later she consulted with our firm and discovered that the statute of limitations had passed and that she was unable to sue. Our partner Jeffrey Bloom is now helping Elissa McMahon in her battle to change the law and get justice. If the law goes through in the next session Elissa McMahon, a 46 year old single mother of a teenage son, will be able to bring a lawsuit. If it doesn’t pass this session she will have to wait until next year. She has stage 4 metastatic cancer and told the News “Even if my son can’t benefit from this, there are other people in similar situations.”

Below is a video of Elissa McMahon in which she discusses her tragic situation with Jeffrey Bloom. Jeff traveled to Albany in support of Elissa and others in her situation to push for the passage of Lavern’s Law. It is a travesty that the Republican’s in the legislature have been blocking this law.

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renal mass

renal mass in a 3 year olds child

Failure to timely diagnose Denys-Drash syndrome can be medical malpractice that can lead to renal failure and ultimately death. Denys-Drash syndrom is a very rare congenital disorder that affects young children. There are only 150 known cases in the world therefore very little information is available for doctors to diagnose and treat this disorder.

What is known so far is that  90% of the children with this disorder develop a rare pediatric kidney cancer known as Wilms tumor. Undescended testes and severe proximal hypospadias are also associated with this disorder. The Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants (JAAPA) recently released an article describing the case of a 3 year old patient affected by this syndrome. The authors Shawn C. Smith Barry Chang and Laura Beth Fleming are all from the Cardon Children Medical Center in Mesa, AZ where the patient was admitted.  The article describe how the authors of the article diagnosed the disorder and which treatments were used to treat the patient. The complete article can be found here 

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CuomoThe law in New York State requires victims of medical malpractice to file their claim within 15 months after medical malpractice occurs at a public hospital and 2 1/2  years against a private hospital or physician. Lavern’s Law proposes to start the statute of limitations from the time a patient discovers the malpractice rather than from the time the medical malpractice occurs. Lavern’s Law is named after Lavern Wilkinson who died from a curable form of lung cancer after doctors at Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn, NYC, failed to tell her that a chest X-ray they took in 2010 showed a small, suspicious mass on her right lung and instead sent her back home with Motrin. Lavern only discovered that she had cancer when she was terminal. By that time, the statute of limitations had expired and she wasn’t able to sue the hospital for failure to diagnose lung cancer. She died leaving behind her a daughter who was severely autistic. The city settled Wilkinson’s lawsuit, for $625,000 the day she died, March 7, 2013. Medical malpractice experts said her case would have netted over $10 million had it not been for the statute of limitations. Yesterday Governor Cuomo gave his support to the law. Read more in the NY Daily News


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firefighterFirefighters are exposed on a regular basis to known carcinogens. A recent study by the The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) that includes data from 1988 to 2007 assessed the association between firefighters and the development of 32 different types of cancer. The study found that firefighters have a greater risk to develop certain types of cancers such as melanoma, acute myeloid leukemia, multiple myeloma, and cancers of the esophagus, prostate, brain, and kidney. Black and Hispanic firefighters, unlike white firefighters, were also found to have increased risks for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, chronic myeloid leukemia and cancers of the tongue, testis, and bladder. Read more here

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spotme-in-community-target-page-bannerFailure to diagnose skin cancer at an early stage can have deadly consequences.  People living in New York  will have plenty of opportunities to get a free skin cancer screening during the month of May which is National Skin Cancer Awareness Month.

Malignant Melanoma is the fastest growing cancer for men, and the second fastest growing cancer for women. If it is detected early when it hasn’t spread to the lymph nodes, the survival rate is 98%.  A yearly annual skin exam performed by a physician offers the best chance of an early diagnosis. Self-exams should also be performed every month. If you notice a change in an existing mole or discover a new one that look suspicious you should show it to a physician immediately.

Here is a list of places where you can get free skin cancer screenings in New York in May and June. For other States click here.

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hpv-ad.jpgHuman papillomavirus is the most common sexually transmitted infection. It is a dangerous infection because it can lead to cancer many years later. The best way to prevent developing HPV-associated cancer is to get vaccinated during preteen and early teen years. Boys and girls should get vaccinated before they start any kind of sexual activity for the vaccine to be the most effective. To be fully protected boys and girls should receive 3 doses over a year and half (one dose every six months). The New York Health department is campaigning for the vaccine as recent statistics show that on average in New York City only 40% of girls 13 to 17 years old and 22% of boys 13 to 17 years old have received the 3 doses. In Staten Island, Central/Southern Brooklyn, and Greenpoint/Williamsburg, statistics show only 5.8% to 25.1% of girls aged 13-17 and 0% to 5.9% of boys aged 13-17 received all three doses of the vaccine.

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Black%20woman.jpgOften because they receive a late diagnosis or because they are not properly treated, African American women with breast cancer are on average 40 percent more likely to die than their white counterparts according to a study that was published last week in the Journal Cancer Epidemiology.

The reason for this disparity was that black women were less likely to get a mammogram than their white counterparts and therefore were less likely to be treated on time. However the gap has closed and now the rate of mammography is similar for black and white women.

Today the reason for the higher rate of mortality among black women with breast cancer is related to what happens after the mammogram. According to the C.D.C., even when they have similar insurance coverage, 20 percent of black women with an abnormal mammogram wait more than 60 days for a diagnosis, compared with 12 percent of white women. And 31 percent of black women wait 30 days to begin treatment, compared with 18 percent of white women.

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Failure to diagnose colorectal cancer at an early stage often happens because patients are not properly educated or simply uncomfortable with the screening which consists of a colonoscopy during which a gastroenterologist will detect and remove precancerous polyps. 140,000 Americans are diagnosed every year with colorectal cancer which is the the third most deadly cancer in the US. All adults over 50 should have a colonoscopy. Colon cancer can be effectively treated if diagnosed early. We believe it should be done at 45.

To better educated patients, The Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx, NY will display The Rollin’ Colon a 20 foot long inflatable colon that shows the normal colon lining as well as the potential diseases that can affect it.

Read more in the New York Daily News

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Stephen%20Mackauf.pngOur Partner New York Medical Malpractice Attorney Stephen Mackauf was quoted extensively in the January Issue of Physician Risk Management. In the article “Causation: A problem for all in missed cancer cases” Stephen Mackauf explains that missed cancer claims typically revolve around factors such as:
– issues of fact, such as a patient claiming she reported a lump and the doctor says she didn’t – whether a patient’s refusal of a test or treatment was documented – whether a patient is able to prove significant harm caused by the delay in diagnosis


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Failure to diagnose cancer in teenagers may be medical malpractice. Because cancer in young adults and teenagers count for only 1% of all diagnosed cancers, they have a higher risk of being misdiagnosed. A recent report “Improving Diagnosis: Teenage Cancer Trust Report on Improving the Diagnostic Experience of Young People with Cancer” was recently published by the Teenage Cancer Trust in London. This report discusses challenges to early diagnosis of cancer for teenagers and offers guidance for clinicians and families to improve care for these patients.