June 30, 2014 — Boston Globe reports that a jury has awarded $16.7 million to the family of a woman who died of lung cancer that doctors missed in a screening.
The lawsuit was filed by Johnette Ellis, 33, on behalf of her mother, Jeanne Ellis, who died in August 2008 at the age of 47. According to attorneys, Ellis visited Brigham and Women’s Hospital complaining of a persistent cough in October 2006. She was given a chest X-ray and was diagnosed with an upper respiratory tract infection.
Over a year later, she visited the hospital again complaining of a persistent cough. This time, doctors ordered a CT scan and diagnosed advanced lung cancer. Over the next seven months, the cancer spread rapidly and caused her death.
Attorneys argued that Ellis’ radiologist was negligent because the chest X-ray in 2006 showed a 1.5-cm opaque nodule in her lung. By the time she had a CT scan in November 2007, Ellis had nodules throughout her lungs and the original one had grown to at least 2.5-cm.
Cancer is notoriously difficult to diagnose and chest X-rays are not the best tool for spotting lung cancer. Even so, the jury found Dr. Peter Clarke liable for her misdiagnosis. Attorneys for Clarke say he was never provided with her full medical history, which included smoking cigarettes for 30 years.
Symptoms of lung cancer include:
- Coughing, especially persistent or intense
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Changes in voice or hoarseness
- Recurrent lung problems
- Coughing up phlegm or mucous
- Coughing up blood
- Changes in color or volume of sputum
- And more