We were introduced to George by his wife’s sister. He came to us a year after he had been diagnosed with Stage IV prostate cancer. For months after his diagnosis, George was focusing on his treatments, and he never even considered that he might have been the victim of medical malpractice. It wasn’t until his oncologist one day asked him about the timing of his diagnosis that George started to suspect that his family doctor may have failed him.
In particular, his oncologist asked George why he hadn’t started treatments at least a year earlier, when his blood work first revealed a severely-elevated PSA level. George was confused by the question, because his doctor had never told him that he had an abnormal PSA level. George hadn’t even known that his doctor had been ordering tests for check his PSA.
We had a long meeting in our conference room with George and his wife. He signed authorizations enabling us to obtain his medical records. After we received his records, we were shocked to learn that 14 months before George’s diagnosis, his family doctor had checked a box on his annual blood tests asking that the laboratory test his PSA — and the lab returned results that were severely elevated. However, due to an office error, nobody communicated the severely abnormal results to George.
It became apparent to us that his cancer should absolutely have been diagnosed 14 months earlier. We consulted with several cancer doctors who advised us that had it been diagnosed in a timely manner, George’s cancer would most likely have been only Stage I, with plenty of time for life-saving treatments. As it turned out, because his cancer was allowed to grow unchecked for 14 months, it proved fatal.
Before he died, in order to preserve his testimony for trial, George testified by videotape to express his pain and frustration at knowing that if his doctor’s office had not failed to tell him about his test results, he would have almost certainly lived a long and healthy life. Shortly after George testified, we settled his case for an amount of money that will ensure his wife and children will be financially secure for the rest of their lives. We still remember George’s wife hugging each of us from the firm who attended his funeral. We’ll never forget her thanking us for giving George peace of mind before he died, knowing that his family would be taken care of when he was gone. We do what we do to honor the memory of people like George and his family, who so needlessly suffered.