Failure to diagnose ovarian mass
A woman had been diagnosed as a child with a rare gynecological condition that caused her to develop ovarian cysts, and her right ovary was removed at age 10. She later began using a contraceptive NuvaRing and, for a short time, the oral contraceptive Lybrel. In 2011, at age 22, the patient went to the ER with complaints of severe pain in her left lower quadrant and was diagnosed with a cyst on her left ovary and was instructed to follow up with her gynecologist. Two months later she again presented to the ER with complaints of abdominal pain. Examination revealed a mass on her left ovary and she was again instructed to follow up with her gynecologist. A week before her appointment with the gynecologist, she returned to the ER with complaints of severe lower left quadrant pain and she was informed that her left ovary was enlarged. The next week she presented to the gynecologist and he informed her that her pain and the enlargement of her ovary had been caused by back-to-back cysts. One month later, during her annual examination the gynecologist concluded that she was well and told her to return in 1 year. One month later the patient consulted with another physician who instructed her to see a gynecologic-oncologist immediately. She underwent surgery to remove her ovary 2 weeks later, which left her unable to have children of her own, at the age of 22.
The patient sued the original gynecologist and alleged he failed to perform appropriate tests, diagnose her condition, and treat her promptly. A medical review panel issued the unanimous opinion the gynecologist fell below the standard of care and was a factor in causing the patient’s condition.
The gynecologist denied any breach of the standard of care and contended the patient’s injury occurred during a 3-week period during which she had stopped taking her hormone-suppressing medications.
The verdict: The jury deliberated for approximately 3 hours before returning a defense verdict.