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Did a failure to diagnose liver cancer shorten man's life?

Hopefully, this is a question with which no Illinois resident will ever be faced. Sadly, it was the question before a jury on the East Coast in the aftermath of a man's death from liver cancer. The members of that jury decided that a failure to diagnose the man's cancer in a timely manner did, in fact, lead to his premature death. His family was awarded approximately $7 million in damages.

In April 2010, the man went to see his primary care physician because he was experiencing pain in his abdomen. The doctor ordered an evaluation of the man's gallbladder and an ultrasound. The imaging results indicated that the man did have gallstones, along with debris, slug and an unidentified mass in his liver. A CT scan was then done on his liver, and the doctor who interpreted it reported that the mass was cirrhosis.

In May 2011, the New Jersey man went to the hospital to be treated for what might have been Lyme disease. However, an echo cardiogram revealed that he had a mass in his heart. When it was removed, it was identified as being cancer that had spread from his liver to his heart. His health rapidly deteriorated, and he died in July 2011 without ever going home again.

His family then filed a lawsuit alleging that the doctor's failure to diagnose liver cancer back in April 2010 led to his death. This case demonstrates how important it is that a patient receives the correct diagnosis as early as possible. If an Illinois patient -- or the patient's family in case of death -- discovers that a doctor misdiagnosed cancer in its early stages, a medical malpractice claim might be the appropriate course of action -- just as it was for this man's family.

Source: nj.com, "Family of man who died from cancer awarded $7M in malpractice case", Ben Horowitz, Oct. 29, 2015

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Q: What is medical malpractice?

A: Medical malpractice is negligence committed by a professional health care provider, such as a doctor, nurse, dentist, technician, hospital worker or hospital, whose treatment of a patient departs from a standard of care met by those with similar training and experience, resulting in harm to a patient...

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