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Failure to diagnose cancer leads to $5.2 million award for woman

For patients who have cancer, an early diagnosis and rapid treatment can often give them the best chance at beating the disease. When there is a failure to diagnose cancer in a timely manner, the chance of successful treatment, survival and remission are all reduced. Kentucky residents might be interested to read a story that shows how important prompt diagnosis is for those with cancer.

One woman who sought care at a military hospital in 2008 for a lump in her breast wasn't diagnosed with breast cancer until 2010. The delayed diagnosis worsened her prognosis, which led to a $5.2 million settlement in federal court.

The woman had ultrasounds and mammograms after visiting a nurse practitioner for two lumps in her breast. The results of those tests led to a recommendation for the woman to see a general surgeon, but those results were never conveyed to the woman or placed in her treatment record.

She sought care again for the same lumps in 2009 and still wasn't diagnosed with breast cancer. The test results from an ultrasound then indicated that the lumps were benign. It wasn't until a biopsy was ordered in 2010 that she received the diagnosis of breast cancer.

At that time, she was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer. It is estimated that the cancer was 5 to 7 cm at that time, but had it been caught in 2008, it would have likely been around 1 cm. Because of the advanced stage of the cancer, the woman faces an increased risk of the cancer returning and killing her with years.

She had a double mastectomy, breast reconstruction, chemotherapy and 21 lymph nodes removed during the course of her treatment.

The ultimate award from the federal judge wasn't the $30 million the couple was seeking. Instead, the judge awarded them $5,233,590 for intangible and tangible losses associated with the failure to diagnose.

Anyone who has suffered injuries because of a failure to diagnose or delayed diagnosis might have the right to seek compensation just as this woman did.

Source:, "Clarksville couple awarded $5.2M after Blanchfield fails to timely diagnose cancer" Stephanie Ingersoll, Apr. 23, 2014

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