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Delay in Diagnosis of Lung Cancer Results in Death

A $1,000,000 Settlement was awarded

Kenny Tripp was admitted to his local hospital with chest pain. The admitting physician was Dr. Morey, M.D., Mr. Tripp’s cardiologist of many years. Dr. Morey performed a coronary angioplasty on Mr. Tripp later that day. The procedure was successful, and Mr. Tripp was sent home two days later.

As part of Dr. Morey’s workup of Mr. Tripp during his hospitalization, Dr. Morey ordered a chest x-ray. The radiologist who interpreted the x-ray noted a “nodule” in Mr. Tripp’s right lung that “might represent a calcified granuloma.” Twice the radiologist recommended in her written report a comparison with Mr. Tripp’s prior chest x-rays. The purpose of such a comparison would have been to see whether the nodule was present on prior films. If it was not, the nodule would have to be presumed to represent lung cancer, rather than a benign granuloma.

No comparison was ever performed or attempted, either by Dr. Morey or by anyone else, and Mr. Tripp was never told that his chest x-ray showed any abnormality. Had Dr. Morey obtained the prior films or even reports of those prior films, he would have discovered that there was no prior evidence of a lung mass, and he would have been obligated to explore whether this new mass was cancer.

Eighteen months later, Mr. Tripp had another chest x-ray. Once again, the ordering physician was Dr. Morey. This time the radiologist noted that the mass in Mr. Tripp’s lung had increased in size and was “consistent with bronchogenic cancer.” Sure enough, further tests determined that Mr. Tripp had adenocarcinoma, a form of lung cancer.

The year-and-a-half delay in lung cancer diagnosis cost Mr. Tripp his life. After three months of palliative radiation treatments, Kenny Tripp died from complications of lung cancer. He was 58 years old.

The Eisen Law Firm filed suit against Dr. Morey, against the radiologist, and against the hospital where the x-rays were done. After extensive litigation, a settlement was reached with one of the two doctors. The case was then fully prepared for trial. Just a few days before trial, the remaining defendants increased their settlement offers, and the case was settled. The total settlement was exceeded $1 million.