The case involved a 74 year old plaintiff who sought treatment with a gastroenterologist due to a cyst on his pancreas. After visiting the gastroenterologist, the plaintiff underwent a blood test to check for evidence of cancer, but did not undergo any further testing. Sixteen months later, the plaintiff underwent testing due to his inability to control his blood sugar. It was determined at that time that he was suffering from pancreatic cancer. Unfortunately, the plaintiff passed away from his cancer eleven months after being diagnosed.
A claim was brought against the treating gastroenterologist for failing to recommend further testing for the plaintiff’s pancreatic cyst. Plaintiff claimed that had further testing been done, specifically an endoscopic ultrasound, the pancreatic cancer would have been diagnosed sixteen months earlier and would have given him a much better chance at surviving the disease. A claim was also brought against a radiologist who plaintiff claimed failed to point out worrisome features of the pancreatic cyst when reviewing a CT scan of the abdomen.
In 2011, Oriana Sousa, a Portuguese psychologist who is now 28 year-old was diagnosed with a rare form of ovarian cancer. When the symptoms started doctors initially failed to diagnose the cancer. For several months Oriana suffered from frequent constipation and fatigue. She was also thirsty all the time. Then she started to have terrible abdominal pain and began vomiting. Her doctor told her she was fine and she shouldn’t worry. Her aunt who is a nurse recommended that she see visit another doctor. The new doctor performed a CT scan and found a massive tumor. Oriana was diagnosed with a very rare, aggressive and fatal form of ovarian cancer.
Immunotherapy shrank the tumor to the surprise of the doctors
During several years Oriana went through surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy to try to eradicate the tumor however new tumors would grow back. Then Oriana convinced her doctor to give her nivolumab, an immunotherapy drug that was not supposed to be used on her tumor. The tumor reacted immediately and shrank. As she continued to take the drug the tumor shrank to the point that she has no more evidence of the disease. Now doctors and researchers are trying to figure out why they were wrong.
Extramammary Paget’s disease (EMPD) is a very rare form of cancer that is often misdiagnosed as a jock itch, a fungal infection in the skin of the genitals, inner thighs and buttock. EMPD usually invades the scrotum and requires multiple operations and skin grafts. The cancer is so rare that patients suffering from this cancer may feel extremely isolated. A year ago, Sandra G. Boodman published an article in her “Medical Myststeries” column about Stephen Schroeder, a patient whose doctors failed to diagnose EMPD. Schroeder wanted to speak publicly about his cancer because he wanted other men to be aware of the common misdiagnosis and also because he felt isolated and he was trying to connect with other patients who were suffering from the same rare disease.
After the article was published in October 2016, he received hundreds of emails and connected with 80 people who were suffering from the same rare form of cancer. He created an online support group where patients and doctors treating them can share information about the disease. Schroeder’s website contains so much information about Extramammary Paget’s disease that scientists used his data for a study recently published in Urology.
The article was also read by patients who had been mistakenly diagnosed with jock itch. A 50 year old engineer read the article on the plane on his way back from China. He was diagnosed with a fungal infection but Shoeder’s story felt so similar to his own experience that he went back to his dermatologist and asked for a biopsy. He also used Shroeder’s website to figure out which questions to ask doctors. The biopsy results confirmed the man was misdiagnosed and he had cancer. He had surgery and he is now in remission. He developed a friendship with Shroeder and the two men met twice in person.
“ Lissy McMahon’s sister, the executrix of her Estate made this video to express her appreciation for the NY Legislature passing Laverne’s Law. Our partner, New York Medical Malpractice Attorney Jeffrey Bloom has been relentlessly pushing for Lavern’s Law to pass. He is the co-chair of the Medical Malpractice Committee of the New York State Trial lawyers Association and co-chair of LawPAC of New York-the political action committee of the Trial Lawyers. Recently, the New York State Legislature passed Lavern’s Law. Jeff represented Lissy McMahon, a single mother who discovered that doctors misdiagnosed her cancer after the statute of limitations had passed. Jeff and Lissy fought together to help pass Lavern’s Law. Unfortunately, Lissy passed away before the law was passed leaving behind her 4 year old son Jack. Jeff now represents her estate.
In New York the statute of limitations for medical malpractice starts from the time the medical error occurred. Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein (D-Brooklyn) is sponsoring a bill that would start the statute of limitations from the time the medical error is discovered instead of the the time it occurred. The bill, named after Lavern Wilkinson, a mother who died of a curable form of lung cancer after doctors misdiagnosed her (see previous blog), has 38 Senate Sponsors , both Republican and Democrats according to Assemblywoman Weinstein. This is enough to pass as long as the Senate decides to take the bill to a vote this year. The time is ticking on the bill as there is only one week left before the session ends. Read more in New York CBS Local.
Our partner, New York Medical Malpractice Attorney Jeffrey Bloom is strongly supporting the bill. Jeff is representing Lissy MacMahon, a single mother of a 15 year old son who was recently diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. Lissy had a previous surgery in 2012 in a New York Hospital. At the time of the surgery, doctors failed to diagnose her cancer. When she visited our office, Lissy learned that she was unable to sue because the statute of limitations had passed despite the fact that she had just learned about her cancer. Lavern’s Law if it passed would allow Lissy to commence her lawsuit and make sure she and her son are taken care of. Jeff traveled to Albany to support Lissy and many others who could benefit from the passage of this law. Below is a video of Lissy that will be shown to all New York State legislators.
Our 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.
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.