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Years Of Doctor Overlooking Abnormal Screening Test Results Leaves Man With State 4 Prostate Cancer

This year approximately 14% of the one hundred ninety three thousand men identified as having prostate cancer will already have advanced prostate cancer when they are diagnosed. With routine testing before the onset of symptoms, including digital examinations and PSA blood tests, many of these individuals might have been diagnosed when their cancer was in the early stages. A lapse of time until the cancer is advanced not only limits the man's treatment alternatives but also substantially reduces his chances of surviving the cancer. Consider the following reported case as an example.
While conducting a physical examination on a fifty-six year old male patient, a doctor noted a small nodule on the left part of the prostate. The doctor ordered a PSA test which came back as 3.1 - typically considered to be in the normal range. The physician took no further action at the time. Just about 3 years went by. The doctor once more did a physical examination and documents that there were no abnormalities felt on the prostate. This time, the doctor does not order a PSA test. The man consulted with by a second doctor approximately six weeks later as part of an insurance mandated medical examination. This doctor ordered a PSA test which comes back at 5.3 - elevated. The man then contacted his regular doctor's practice and was told to come back for them to take their own PSA test. This test returned a 3.5 - within normal range. The physician told the individual not to worry and that nothing else needed to be done.
Again, nearly 3 years passed before the doctor next screened the patient. The physician again documents the nodule. The doctor then ordered a PSA test that came back at 4.7 - elevated. The doctor does not inform the man and takes no action on these 2 abnormal test results. Close to 2 years later the physical examination reveals that the prostate not only had a nodule, but was firm on the side of the nodule and was enlarged. The PSA test at this point shows the level at 14.1. This time, the doctor at last refers the patient to a Urologist who finds that the patient has metastatic prostate cancer that had reached the bones around pubic area and the top portion of his right leg.
An action for medical malpractice followed in the process of which the doctor admitted that the presence of the nodule was an "abnormal" finding. The law firm that represented the man and his wife reported that the matter was resolved for a total amount of $850,000. This sum included $250,000 for non-economic damages and $250,000 for the wife's future wrongful death claim - the maximum recoverable under the laws of the state in which the claim arose.
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