When people call lawyers about a cancer lawsuit, they virtually always want to begin by speaking about what the physician did wrong. When considering whether to take on a lawsuit, however, this is simply one of the issues that lawyers factor in. There are two additional factors that attorneys take into account. First, did the doctor’s error cause harm to the plaintiff. Second, is the injury enough that it justifies the economics of taking on the lawsuit.
It is frequently easy to establish if a doctor had information, in the form of a heigh PSA test result or an abnormal digital examination, suspicious for the possibility of prostate cancer. It is additionally usually fairly easy to figure out the amount of delay caused by the doctor’s mistake. The delay is normally the time that passed between when the patient was diagnosed and when the physician first had the information regarding the abnormal PSA or digital examination results.
What might be more challenging to calculate is the extent of the injury to the individual. Except if the PSA surpasses at least a 10.0 (anything over a 4.0 is thought to be elevated) or a bone scan discloses sign of metastasis, even if the cancer has a high Gleason score, the majority of doctors would acknowledge that it is impossible to figure out the stage of the cancer without doing surgery. The examination of the specimens gathered in the course of the surgery determines if the cancer had already spread beyond the prostate. Even with a PSA higher than a 10.0 it is still possible that the cancer has not penetrated outside the prostate and that surgery can eliminate the cancer.
In one published case, a fifty two year old patient had his PSA taken by his physician The lab reported that the PSA level was normal. The patient’s PSA level was retested by the same physician two years after that. This time, though, the result showed that his PSA level had reached a 4.2. Not only is this level normally regarded as elevated (as discussed in medical textbooks and papers) but the lab that examined the blood sample in fact marked the result as high in its report to the doctor. The physician followed the patient 4 times over the next 2 . 5 years but did not tell the patient of the abnormal test result or doing a follow-up PSA test. It was over 3 years after the abnormal test result that the physician eventually performed a follow-up PSA test. Now the results showed a PSA level of 5.25. The PSA level had gone up.
This was the first time the physician informed the patient about the previously elevated level. Once these results came in, the physician sent the man to a urologist. The urologist performed a biopsy which disclosed that he had cancer. Surgery disclosed that the cancer had already spread to the seminal vesicles and there was evidence of vascular as well as perineal invasion. Seeing as the cancer had by then started spreading beyond the prostate, the surgery lowered his PSA level but was not able to eliminate all the cancer. The man thus underwent hormone therapy. His PSA levels then began to climb post-operatively. This suggests a poor prognosis so that it is unlikely that the patient will survive 5 years after the surgery.
The law firm that handled this matter published that the medical malpractice lawsuit settled in the amout of $ 550,000 The patient was 60 years old when the case settled The settlement agreement left the chance of a wrongful death lawsuit if the man does not live to the relevant statute of limitations.
As this claim shows, the nature of the harm to the patient was not known until the results of the surgery were reviewed and confirmed that the cancer hadreached areas outside the prostate. Furthermore it was not until the patient’s PSA levels started to climb post-operatively that the full extent of the injury was know. At that point the attorney was in a position to be able to fully evaluate the patient’s case. Notice that the law firm in this case limited the settlement only to the patient’s medical malpractice claim. This was especially important given the man’s poor prognosis. Of course if there will later be a wrongful death lawsuit that may be pursued will depend on a number of factors including whether the patient will pass away from the cancer or due to a different cause and whether it occurs within the time frame allowed by the relevant statute of limitations and statute of repose.