Preventable Death Due to Failure to Diagnose Colon Cancer - $1.1 Million Arbitration Award
B.Br. was an extraordinary man. A black man raised in Roxbury, Massachusetts, he became a hall of fame track star in college, a United States Marine officer, then a civil rights activist after graduation, and eventually the assistant dean of a respected college where he recruited and mentored minority students. He married Y.H., a physician, and with her raised two beloved daughters. Approaching 60, B.Br. was mentally and physically strong. In 1996, his primary care physician from a managed care health plan, failed to perform a differential diagnosis when B.Br. reported fatigue and an alarming drop in hematocrit (red blood cell count) taken at the office of another doctor. That doctor, who was retiring, told B.Br. the hematocrit drop could be serious, and to see his primary care doctor immediately. Had the primary care physician performed the differential diagnosis, he would have diagnosed his patient’s colon cancer at an early, curable stage. Instead the cancer was not discovered until three years later, when B.Br. suffered extreme exhaustion doing minor physical activity. By the time it was discovered, the colon cancer had metastasized to the liver and was incurable. B.Br. died ten months after his cancer was diagnosed. The arbitrator, a respected retired Superior Court judge, found that the defendant was negligent and that with proper care, B.Br. would likely have survived. The award was $1.1 million. A copy of the Arbitrator’s decision can be found in the Library section of this web site, under “medication and anesthesia errors.”
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