Lung Cancer: Abnormal Chest X-Ray, Failure to Inform Patient and Failure to Follow-up Screening Test

Jeffrey Hugh Dover

Practice Area:Medical Malpractice

Outcome:The case went to trial. After five days of testimony the case was settled.

Description:The plaintiff was a 57-year-old male smoker who appeared for a physical exam by the defendant family practitioner. He was offered a screening chest x-ray and was referred to the defendant’s radiology clinic. The x-ray was performed and was read as suspicious for a two centimeter lesion in the left upper lobe. The plaintiff, however, was not informed of the abnormality in a timely manner. The defendant family practitioner never followed up on the test results. One year later the plaintiff returned to the family practitioner and another chest x-ray was ordered. This study revealed an eight centimeter lesion in the left upper lobe. Review of the previous x-ray confirmed the lesion was present a year earlier. The plaintiff was diagnosed with lung carcinoma and received radiation and chemotherapy. Our firm assisted the plaintiff in suing the defendant radiology clinic for simple negligence in failing to report the abnormal chest x-ray findings to the referring doctor. It was found that the plaintiff’s name was not on the list of reports delivered to the referring doctor by the radiology clinic. The family practitioner was also sued for simple negligence (having no policy or procedure to identify and follow-up on tests that were ordered) and professional negligence (failing to follow-up on a test that was ordered).