13-Month Delay in Lung Cancer Diagnosis Draws $8.1 Million Jury Award

13-Month Delay in Lung Cancer Diagnosis Draws $8.1 Million Jury Award

In January of this year, a Cook County jury awarded $8.1 million to the family of a deceased Chicago woman whose delayed diagnosis of lung cancer resulted in her death at age 64. The family had argued that if it weren’t for a radiologist’s error reading a 2013 X-ray, Althea Wright’s cancer would have been discovered and the mother of two would have received life-saving care promptly.

According to patch.com, Ms. Wright went for X-rays in August 2013 to the MetroSouth Medical Center in Blue Island. The X-ray revealed a rounded density in Ms. Wright's left lung, but the radiologist, Palmer J. Blakley, M.D., “failed to identify or document the presence of the mass or any abnormality.”

It was fourteen months before doctors at Advocate South Suburban Hospital identified Ms. Wright’s cancer in October 2014. That was sufficient time for the untreated disease to progress from stage I to stage III. Ms. Wright only lived for five months after the diagnosis.

The family’s attorney claimed in a written statement that the cancer “was diagnosable, treatable, and curable in August of 2013." However, "Dr. Blakley's failure to take advantage of the opportunity for early detection cost Althea her life and her children their mom."

The jury decided that Blakely’s estate and Unimed Ltd., the diagnostic radiology practice where she worked were responsible for wrongful death due to medical malpractice.

Illinois has a Survival Act, which allows representatives of a decedent’s estate to sue for personal injury damages the victim could have claimed if the victim had survived, as well as a Wrongful Death Act, which allows next of kin to recover monetary losses due to a loved one’s death.

Lung cancer is notorious for fast growth, especially the aggressive small-cell variety. This makes it very difficult to catch lung cancer at an early stage. When a patient presents a physician with the opportunity to spot cancer early and initiate treatment, it’s imperative that the physician seize that opportunity. Misreading an early diagnostic can impose a death sentence on the patient, as it certainly did for Althea Wright.

The survival rates for typical Stage I lung cancer range from 97 percent to 73 percent. By contrast, survival rates for most Stage III cancers are only 65 to 12 percent. (Survival rates are for two to five years.) Given the precipitous drop-off in survivability, a diagnostician cannot afford to be hasty or sloppy in assessing test results.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of a missed diagnosis of a serious disease, you may be eligible for financial compensation. Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis can happen within our jail system as well. Take advantage of a free consultation at 866.836.4684 or online with one of our firm’s knowledgeable lawyers. We can pursue your case aggressively and deliver the results you deserve.


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