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Patient Claims Misread Pap Smear Leads to Cervical Cancer Delayed Diagnosis

The Post-Gazette reported this week on another case of potential medical test reading gone awry. One of the most harmful mistakes that a medical professional can make is giving false assurances about one’s well-being, leading to a delay in proper diagnosis and treatment. Timing matters immensely in so many medical situations, making it important for doctors and nurses to react efficiently and appropriately based on the information in front of them.
Sadly, sometimes that doesn’t happen.

Delayed Diagnosis
The Post story, for example, involves a new med mal lawsuit filed by a woman who claims that her Pap smear was misread by a pathologist for five consecutives years. Over that time the woman claims that the doctor failed to identify that she had cervical cancer–meaning that she went year after year without necessary treatment. Obviously this error, if true, has very grievous implications. It also raises questions about the overall quality of care provided by the pathology department at the facility. Where one mistake like this happens, are there others?

All of these concerns have led the facility, along with various outside observers, to launch an investigation to determine exactly what went on here. According to the story, experts from the state public regulatory body, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, and even the College of American Pathology have gotten involved. These entities have yet to finish their review, but the doctor who is accused of misreading the tests noted that he is confident he will be vindicated following these examinations.

In preparing to file the lawsuit, several independent outside sources were apparently hired to review the 5 years worth of slides. According to the attorney representing the woman in the case, those professionals found a clear “progression of pre-cancerous cells to a pervasive carcinoma.” All of this, experts have claimed, should have spurred follow up testing for the patient (likely a biopsy) to learn more about the suspicious test results. However, none of that happened in this case.

Fortunately, the woman in this situation eventually had her cancer discovered after giving birth to twins. In addition, she responded well to treatments and seems to have beaten the cancer thus far. However, she notes that in filing the medial malpractice lawsuit, she hopes to ensure that other woman who might have similarly had misread tests be made aware. One of the concerns about wide-spread problems is that fact that, according to the allegations, the mistakes were made for five straight years. One reading error might be a fluke, but several in a row is indicative of chronic problems. It is not at all uncomon in medical malpractice situations of all stripes to find cases bunch up among certain professionals or institutions. Preventable errors and breaches of appropriate standards of care are not evenly disbursed among the medical community.

If you or someone you love may have been affected by a delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis in Chicago or throughout Illinois, please take a moment to contact the malpractice lawyers at our firm to see how we can help.

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