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Failure To Diagnose Colon Cancer

$1.65 Million RECOVERY

Physician Assistant failed to timely investigate the plaintiff’s decedent’s complaints

Kings County, NY

This medical malpractice action involved the plaintiff’s decedent, an immigrant, married father of one teenage daughter, who presented to a physician assistant complaining of mid-epigastric pain and bloating since 2010. Plaintiff contended that the complaints were ignored for about one year. Eventually, the decedent was sent to a gastroenterologist who prescribed anti-reflux medication and performed an endoscopy only. Plaintiff alleged that the biopsy results were benign and did not explain the decedent’s continued complaints despite being on anti-reflux medication. Decedent returned to the physician assistant and the decedent requested a colonoscopy however the physician assistant advised him he was too young. By February 2012, the decedent began bleeding rectally. The physician assistant sent him to a different gastroenterologist who immediately diagnosed the decedent with Stage IV colon cancer with metastasis to his liver. Following his diagnosis, the decedent could no longer work as a janitor. The decedent expired on July 13, 2013.

The plaintiff maintained that the decedent’s complaints were not timely investigated. The defendants argued that the complaints were not consistent with colon cancer and the standard of care was followed. Plaintiff would have called an expert gastroenterologist to testify that the biopsy results did not explain his ongoing complaints despite proper medication and that in that setting, the standard of care required a colonoscopy and/or CT scan for further investigation.

During the discovery phase of litigation, it was discovered that the day after the defendant physician assistant received the complaint, the decedent’s medical record was altered 72 times. Following the denial of summary judgment to all defendants, the parties mediated a settlement against the physician assistant and the supervising physician for $1.65 million.