Our client was a 35 year old woman who regularly visited her gynecologist and had a PAP smear each year for seven years. Each year her PAP smear would be sent to a pathologist to be read. In all these years of testing, nothing abnormal was ever revealed to her from her tests. She told her doctor on her last regular visit that she was having severe back pain, longer and heavier periods, night sweats, and spotting. Her gynecologist and his nurse practitioner chose to ignore these symptoms and stated that her exam was normal. Our client decided to go to a chiropractor to have her back examined. It was during this visit that the chiropractor recommended an MRI. The MRI showed a mass suspicious for malignancy. The results of this MRI were sent to our client’s gynecologist. Soon thereafter, our client underwent a diagnostic laparoscopy performed by her gynecologist. Our client’s gynecologist referred her to a general surgeon for further review. The general surgeon determined that she needed to be seen by an oncologist.
Our client was referred to an oncologist who told her that she had an invasive cancerous tumor. Our client and her husband were shocked and devastated when she was diagnosed with a stage IVB cervical cancer. This is one of the most serious and dangerous forms of cancer that is very difficult to treat. This was the first time in all of her doctor’s visits that our client had been told that she had cancer. Our client required aggressive painful radiation and debilitating chemotherapy treatments. She suffered from fatigue, nausea, vomiting, pain, and swelling in her right leg. She underwent an extensive and painful surgery to remove the cancerous lesion. This surgery paralyzed her leg in the immediate postoperative period, but through painful physical therapy, she was able to regain her mobility. Our client hired us to find out how cancer had been missed.
Todd Townsley had an expert review the PAP smears from the past years. The pathology expert determined revealed that there were malignant and suspicious cells noted on the past two years’ PAP smear results. The pathologist that originally reviewed these slides stated that he thought that the abnormal cells were due to our client’s premenstrual status. These two misdiagnosed cervical PAP tests were the most important contributors to the progression of our client’s cervical cancer to the stage IVB level. Had these slides been correctly read, the lesion could have been treated with much less extensive and invasive methods.
Unfortunately, the pathologist’s malpractice caused our client a lost chance of survival. If a cervical cancer like hers is allowed to progress to a stage IV B, her chances of a 5 year survival were only 5%. After a brief period where she appeared to recover, a PET scan revealed that the cancer had returned. She underwent more chemotherapy and radiation, but died as a result of this cancer. Todd Townsley was able to come to a satisfactory settlement with the gynecologist, pathologist, and the Patient’s Compensation Fund for this woman’s misdiagnosed cancer.