A South Carolina cancer misdiagnosis case resulted in a $6.9 million jury verdict recently. Forty-seven year old Leanna Loud was a nurse at the Medical University Hospital and served in the Air Force reserve. She is a mother of three.
In 2003, she began cancer screenings at the age of 35. She had a second screening at the age of 39. The two films showed a difference or change—calcifications. A change in imaging studies is a hallmark sign that further follow up or testing is required. But in Ms. Loud’s case, no follow up or other studies were done to determine whether the changes were cancerous.
A cancer misdiagnosis can be fatal. We have written previously about cancer survival rates. For breast cancer, if caught early enough, the long term survival rates are good. Lancet states that 5-year survival rates for breast cancer are 86.4%. Ten year survival rates for breast cancer are 78.3%. But if the cancer is not caught early because of a misdiagnosis, the survival rate can be much lower.
In Ms. Loud’s case, she was diagnosed with Stage 3 Invasive Duct Carcinoma two years later. Because of the cancer misdiagnosis, the disease had metastasized to her hips, sternum, and spine. Once cancer is allowed to metastasize, it becomes much more difficult to treat it.
Standard of Care for Cancer Misdiagnosis
This cancer misdiagnosis was a result of the physicians failure to follow the standard of care. Experts at her trial testified and established the reasonable standard of care physicians were expected to follow under the circumstances. When a deviation from the standard causes injury or wrongful death, then the physician can be held responsible through the legal system.
At trial, the jury returned a verdict of $6.9 million. Approximately $700,000 of that was awarded to her husband in what’s called loss of consortium damages. Those are damages allocated for the loss of marital aid, comfort, and society within the marital relationship.