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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Natasha%20Simmonds.jpg In a very sad medical malpractice case a 16 year old girl died of brain cancer after none of the 13 doctors who failed to diagnose the brain tumor ordered an MRI. Natasha Simmons had all the symptoms of a brain tumor: headaches, numbness, back pain, vomiting and problems with her eyesight. She visited 13 doctors over a one year period but none of them ordered an MRI. An ER doctor refused a scan and said they were reserved for life and death situations. 11 months later, an MRI was finally done but it was too late. Natasha Simmons was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor and died 8 days later.

Read more in the Huffington Post

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Doctors often fail to diagnose cancer in women with dense breast tissue because mammograms screenings are not reliable for women with this condition. Recent statistics and studies also show that women with dense breast tissue have a higher risk of developing breast cancer. Therefore advocacy groups have been pushing for legislation that requires doctors to report breast density to their patient. In New York, failure to inform a patient about dense breast tissue is now against the law and may support a claim of medical malpractice. The legislation was signed by Governor Cuomo on July 23 2012 and took effect last January. A total of 18 states have enacted dense breast notification laws, and 10 more have laws pending. Who is supposed to do the reporting and what they are supposed to tell patients varies from state to state.

In “Dense Breast Legislation in the United States: State of the States” published in the December issue of the Journal of the American College of Radiology, Soudabeh Fazeli Dehkordy, MD, MPH, and Ruth C. Carlos, MD, MS, from the Department of Radiology at the University of Michigan School of Medicine in Ann Arbor provide a detailed review of the state of this law at states and federal level.


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A recent study looked at the medical malpractice claims of the 2 largest insurance companies in Massachusetts during five years. The study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine and led by Doctor Gordon Schiff (Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s Division of General Internal Medicine and Primary Care) looks at patterns of primary care malpractice types.

During the five years under review there were 7224 medical malpractice claims of which 551 (7.7%) were from primary care practices. Out of these 551 cases, researchers found out that most medical claims were failure to properly diagnose a condition (72.1%). Other malpractice claims were related to medication errors (12.3%), medical treatment errors (7.4%), failures to communicate properly (2.7%), patient rights (2.0%), and patient safety or security(1.5%).

According to the author “many of these claims “appear to be due to failure in more routine yet high volume outpatient office processes”. The study also found some evidence suggesting that “outpatient primary care in general and diagnostic cases in particular were less defensible than other malpractice claims because they were significantly more likely to be settled (35.2% vs 20.5%) or result in a verdict for the plaintiff (1.6% vs 0.9%) compared with non–general medical malpractice claims.

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Breast%20Cancer%20Awareness.png Failure to diagnose breast cancer at an early stage can be deadly. To make sure all New York women, including those who don’t have insurance, are getting screened for breast cancer, the state of New York is sponsoring multiple initiatives related to Breast Cancer Prevention, Early Detection and Community-Based Breast Cancer Education, Counseling, Outreach and Support Services.

In a recent campaign Governor Cuomo urged all women to get checked for breast cancer. Uninsured women should call NYSDOH Cancer Services Program at 1-866-442-CANCER (2262) or click here to find a free cancer screening in their community.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer and the second deadliest cancer among women in New York State. Every year, 14,000 new cases are diagnosed and 2800 women die from breast cancer in our State. Early detection is key to reduce the number of deaths.

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Failure to diagnose ovarian cancer at an early stage frequently happens because there are no specific symptoms and no early detection tests have been available so far. It is the deadliest of all gynecological cancers with a mortality rate that has not improved in forty years since the “War on Cancer” was declared.

A new screening strategy that looks at the change of carbohydrate antigen 125 (CA125) levels over time and age may bring new hope for earlier detection.

Karen H. Lu MD, H.E.B. Professorship in Cancer Research, Department of Gynecologic Oncology and Reproductive Medicine, Division of Surgery, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX and her team tested 4051 women over a period of 11 years. Each participant had an annual CA 125 blood test and then based on a Risk of Ovarian Cancer Algorithm (ROCA) women would be scheduled for a test the following year (low risk) , a test in 3 months (medium risk) or a transvaginal ultrasound (high risk).

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17000 women and 9000 men get cancer linked to human papillomavirus (HPV) every year. For women the most common is cervical cancer and for men the most common are cancers of the back of the throat, tongue and tonsils.

A recent study shows that since it was introduced in the US in late 2006 , the HPV vaccination has reduced HPV infection rates in teen girls by half. More than 57 million doses have been distributed in the US in the last seven years and all studies show that the HPV vaccine is safe.

To learn more about the HPV Vaccine, check the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

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In this medical malpractice case the plaintiff was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer in her right breast. She underwent a right breast mastectomy. She had a family history of breast cancer. Seven years later in 2007 she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. The plaintiffs alleged that, given the plaintiff’s own medical history and that of her paternal family, as well as her father’s Ashkenazi Jewish ethnicity, defendant’s failure to recommend, prior to November 2007, “BRCA” genetic testing or prophylactic surgery removing her ovaries, which could have prevented the onset of her ovarian cancer, constituted medical malpractice. In reversing the Court below and reinstating the complaint the Court held:

“Here, the allegations in the bills of particulars concerning the period from March 2001 through November 2007, when the patient was under defendant’s care, were that defendant departed from the accepted medical practices of that time by failing to recommend “BRCA” genetic testing and “prophylactic oophorectomy or bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy” to the patient, given her personal and family medical history. Since the respondents’ expert failed to provide any information as to what the accepted medical practices were during the period at issue with regard to BRCA genetic testing, and did not refute or even address (see Berkey v Emman, 291 AD2d at 518) the specific allegations regarding the failure to recommend prophylactic oophorectomy or bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy, the respondents did not meet their prima facie burden on the issue of whether there was a departure from accepted medical practices.

Accordingly, the Supreme Court should have denied the respondents’ motion for summary judgment dismissing the complaint insofar as asserted against them.” See: Mancuso v. Friscia, et al., 2013 NY Slip Op 05515.

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Recalls of patients after a mammogram have an occurrence rate of 12%. It is a very stressful experience for the patient and it adds to diagnostic costs. With tomosynthesis the recall rate can be reduced from 12% to 8% but the breast cancer detection rate doesn’t change significantly according to a new study lead by Dr. Brian Haas and Dr. Liane E. Philpotts, diagnostic radiology department of Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut, and published in the Journal Radiology.

Tomosynthesis allows for three-dimensional (3-D) reconstruction of the breast tissue. Screening is more accurate because superimposed and overlapping tissue can be removed from the view. The study also indicates that women younger than 50 years old and women with dense breasts are benefiting the most from tomosynthesis.

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Prostate cancer is is the second most common cancer among men. Delay to treat or failure to diagnose prostate cancer may have fatal consequences but so far it has been difficult for doctors to diagnose how aggressive prostate cancer is. Additionally the role played by the nerves around the tumor was never well understood.

A new study led by by stem-cell expert Paul Frenette, M.D., professor of medicine and of cell biology and director of the Ruth L. and David S. Gottesman Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Research at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, Bronx, New York demonstrates that nerves commonly found around cancerous tumors play an important role in the development and spread of the tumor.

This innovative study opens the door to new ways to prevent and treat prostate cancer.

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During colonoscopy, endoscopists can find potentially precancerous growths (polyps) and remove them, however some polyps especially on the right side of the colon are more difficult to detect. Failure to detect these polyps reduces the efficacy of colonoscopy for colon cancer screening.

By using a quarterly report card, endoscopists at the Roudebush Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Indianapolis were able to increase the overall adjusted adenoma (precancerous polyp) detection rate from 44.7 percent to 53.9 percent, and to improve the cecal intubation rate from 95.6 percent to 98.1 percent. The complete study can be found in the June issue of GIE: Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, the monthly peer-reviewed scientific journal of the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE)