Patients suffer when medical doctors and dentists do not quickly act upon indicators of illnesses during routine check-ups. Sullivan Papain Block McGrath & Cannavo PC (SPBMC) represented a woman whose neglectful doctors made life unbearable in her final days.
Mary was a wife and mother in her 60s when, during a dental visit, a suspicious white spot was found on her tongue. She was referred to an oral surgeon who performed a biopsy and recommended, in his words, “careful, long-term, follow-up care.” He also told Mary that the spot would eventually need to be removed, but no urgency was required. This lackadaisical care and unprofessional attitude started a tumultuous sequence of events.
One year after the spot was discovered, another biopsy was performed which our expert later testified required removal at that point in time. However, that surgeon maintained the procedure was not critical and took no further action, until he ordered yet a third biopsy three months later. Incredibly and shamefully, those samples were taken from the wrong area of the tongue.
Disheartened, Mary returned to her first doctor. During the visit he used a laser to remove the spot but negligently never sent a specimen to pathology — proving he never confirmed what he removed or whether he caught all the dangerous tissue. While under the continued care of this doctor, Mary’s tongue became enlarged. She was living with constant pain that affected her ability to eat and swallow, and her tongue eventually became immobile. She finally visited a new physician who accurately evaluated her condition and explained that she had cancer that originated in her tongue. Had the prior doctors properly diagnosed her and removed the lesions, her survival chances would have been much more favorable.
As a result of the delay and continuous negligent treatment, Mary suffered catastrophic consequences: she had to have her tongue and larynx removed; she had to breathe through a tube; and was unable to speak, or eat or drink normally. This was how she lived in the days leading up to her tragic passing at age 67.
Mary’s family came to SPBMC for justice. We reviewed all the medical records and brought an action against several of the dentists and surgeons who were responsible for Mary’s poor treatment.
The trial commenced and testimony was taken. Since Mary had passed away by this time, the action was not only for her pain and suffering, but also for her wrongful death and the resultant loss to her grieving family. Our cancer experts explained that the negligent and careless delay of the diagnosis of Mary’s tongue cancer caused it to spread throughout her body. Before the case was submitted to the jury, the defendants agreed to settle and paid nearly $2.4 million to Mary’s family.
For many patients, the timely and proper treatment of any illness may mean the difference between life and death. If you think a serious condition could have been prevented or eliminated if not for a failure to diagnose a disease or injury, contact us immediately.
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