Lawsuit For Colon Cancer Death Of 24 Year Old When Doctor Ignored Her Complaints Of Rectal Bleeding
Statistically less than one percent of those diagnosed with colon cancer are under the age of thirty-five. Yet, given the deadly nature of the disease doctors generally agree that the presence of rectal bleeding, even in someone under thirty-five, needs to be followed by a colonoscopy in order to determine whether the bleeding is due to a tumor or some other reason. Simply assuming that the blood is the result of hemorrhoids falls below the standard of care.
Consider what happened in a reported case involving a woman who complained to her family doctor that she noticed blood in her stool and experienced pain when she had bowel movements. The woman was only twenty four years old. The doctor, without even performing an examination, prescribed a laxative after diagnosing her with diarrhea and other bowel problems. She went back after 4 months with complaints of constipation, pain and problems sitting. This time the doctor finally examined her but told her she had hemorrhoids. His treatment: an enema. She saw that doctor two more times and each time was reassured that she merely had hemorrhoids and had nothing to worry about.
The woman had to be rushed to an emergency room complaining of severe pain 7 months after her initial visit to the family doctor. They scheduled a colonoscopy at which time she was diagnosed with advanced colorectal cancer. She underwent surgery (which due to the advanced nature of the cancer included not only removal of part of her colon but also of her uterus and part of the lower intestines). This was followed by chemotherapy. She eventually had a recurrence and died of the disease less than three years later. She was survived by her husband and daughter, a minor.
The law firm that handled this case reported that the case went to trail and the jury returned a verdict of $1.5 million. The award included the maximum of $350,000 allowed under the law of the state where the doctor practices for pain and suffering. The remainder of the award was for future lost wages.
This case is just one example of what is perhaps the most common medical error concerning the diagnosis of colon cancer. Far too often doctors do not perform order a colonoscopy or refer the patient to a gastroenterologist when a patient complains of rectal bleeding or blood in the stool. Instead, these doctors simply assume that the symptoms are the result of hemorrhoids. This is especially common when the patient is under fifty years old.
When this happens and the patient dies because the cancer spread to the point of not being curable due to the delay in diagnosis the surviving family may be able to bring a claim against the doctor responsible for the delay.
by: Joseph Hernandez