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$10 Million Verdict for Family of South Carolina Wife and Mother Who Died from Curable Kidney Cancer

The family of a 70 year old wife and mother was recently awarded $10 million after a Columbia, South Carolina jury found the urologist who failed to treat her liable for her death.

Life-Saving Information Not Shared with Patient
The woman, Joann Bannister, was being monitored by her primary care physician, Dr. Jerry Robinson, for a growth on her left kidney. After a 2011 visit with Dr. Phillip Kinder, a urologist with Columbia Urological Associates, she was told by her primary care doctor that the growth would potentially lead to removal of her kidney, but he put off immediate treatment and requested that she schedule another appointment in 6 months. 4 months later, Mrs. Bannister was back in Dr. Robinson’s office, this time complaining of lower back pain. Dr. Robinson sent her for a CT scan that revealed the kidney growth had gotten larger. The radiologist who reviewed the CT scan advised removal of the growth to test it for cancer, but for unknown reasons, Dr. Kinder, her urologist, never communicated this information to her.

Nearly a year passed before Mrs. Robinson’s primary care doctor sent her back for a CT scan. In June 2012, the radiologist who reviewed Mrs. Bannister’s second CT scan said “this is absolutely…malignant” and also noted that the cancer had spread to other parts of her body.

Mrs. Bannister passed away just 4 months later from kidney cancer that had metastasized. According to the American Cancer Society, Stage 1 localized kidney cancer has a 5 year survival rate of 97% for otherwise low-risk patients.

The lawsuit filed by her late husband, Adolph Bannister, said “At least up to August 2011, surgical intervention more likely than not would have prevented Mrs. Bannister’s death from cancer.” The lawsuit also said that Mrs. Bannister’s urologist, Dr. Kinder, “failed to timely follow-up and intervene” during those months when intervention would have saved her life. The jury deliberated for 3 hours before awarding Mr. Bannister $10 million against Dr. Kinder, the urologist, and his medical group, Columbia Urological Associates. Her primary care physician was not found liable.

When a Patient Does All the Right Things and Still Faces Tragedy
A large medical malpractice verdict is nearly always a sign that jurors have realized the injustice faced by a victim and want to compensate the victim or victim’s loved ones for a serious loss. It also serves as a message that there are real people on the other side of test results, X-rays, CT scans, and ultrasounds. For Mrs. Bannister, she was proactive in seeing her primary care physician, who sent her for two CT scans to monitor the kidney tumor’s growth. The radiologist accurately read her scans and indicated that surgical intervention was necessary. It was her urologist, who upon receiving her results, did not advise her to have a surgery. It is unclear from media reports if he ever even mentioned to her that the radiologist recommended surgical intervention.

A case such as Mrs. Bannister’s is a preventable tragedy, an occurrence that has become more commonplace than one might think. Today, Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers estimate that medical error is the third leading cause of death in this country, higher than strokes or respiratory disease.

The Chicago medical malpractice attorneys at Levin & Perconti have spent nearly three decades tirelessly fighting for justice for victims of preventable medical errors. From failure to inform a patient of a condition and properly counsel them on treatment, to missed or delayed diagnoses, to medication errors, to birth injuries, our attorneys have over 130 years combined experience researching and litigating medical mistakes that have altered the course of our people’s lives.

If you or someone you love has found yourself to be the victim of a medical error of any kind, please let us fight for you. Our consultations are always free and confidential. To request time with one of our medical malpractice attorneys, please call us at 312-332-2872 or complete an online case consultation form here.