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Legal: Delay in diagnosing bladder cancer

Gynecologist fails to diagnose bladder cancer for 2 years.

In 2001, a New Jersey woman went to her gynecologist with complaints of frequent urination and a burning sensation. A test for a urinary tract infection was negative, but the patient was treated for this. Two years later the patient was diagnosed with bladder cancer by another physician. At that point, it had spread to her urethra and a kidney, requiring removal of the kidney and portions of her bladder and urethra and leaving her with a high risk of recurrence.

She sued the gynecologist and the case was submitted to an arbitrator, who found negligence and awarded $3 million in damages, but assessed 50% contributory negligence to the patient because she was a smoker.

Department editor DAWN COLLINS, JD, is an attorney specializing in medical malpractice in Long Beach, CA. She welcomes feedback on this column via e-mail to dawncfree@gmail.com