Rectal Cancer Misdiagnosis | Maryland Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

Bender v. Frederick Primary Care Associates

This is a failure to diagnose rectal cancer lawsuit filed in Frederick County on February 4, 2016. It was the 55 medical malpractice lawsuit filed in Maryland in 2016.

Summary of Plaintiff's Allegations

This is a failure to diagnose rectal cancer case. A married man with two adult children goes to Frederick Primary Care Associates, P.A. for an adult preventative health visit. His review of symptoms ("ROS") is negative for rectal bleeding, and his rectal exam is normal.

About a year later than man presents for a follow-up visit. The Defendant doctor notes an onset of rectal bleeding. The ROS notes: "Present - Hemorrhoids and Rectal Bleeding." The man visits the Defendant doctor four additional times over the next two and half years. The ROS notes hemorrhoids and rectal bleeding for each visit.

Approximately three and a half years after the man's hemorrhoids and rectal bleeding are first documented, he goes to a new doctor. When the new doctor sees the man's rectal bleeding and loose stools, he orders a colonoscopy. Before the colonoscopy can be performed, the man goes to the ER at Frederick Memorial Hospital with complaints of rectal bleeding, chronic diarrhea, and a reported 15-pound weight loss.

The colonoscopy eventually reveals that the man has an ulcerated mass measuring 7 x 4 cm in his rectum. He has rectal cancer and immediately begins radiation therapy while in the hospital. He continues undergoing chemotherapy and radiation for several months as an outpatient. Despite aggressive medical intervention, the cancer spreads throughout his body. He passes away.

The man's wife and two surviving sons bring a survival action and a wrongful death claim against Frederick Primary Care Associates and the Defendant doctor in Frederick County. They allege that the standard of care was violated when the Defendants failed to arrange further evaluation pursuant to the man's rectal bleeding and failed to order a colonoscopy in light of the man's complaints of ongoing rectal bleeding and change in bowel habits.

Had the Defendants complied with the standard of care, more likely than not, the man would have been diagnosed with an early stage of rectal cancer, been given the appropriate treatment, and his condition would not have progressed to an advanced stage of rectal cancer. More likely than not, the man would have survived.

Additional Comments
  • Approximately 4.4% of us will be diagnosed with colon or rectal cancer in our lifetimes.
  • Colon and rectal cancer are often misdiagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diverticulitis, ulcerative colitis, or, as in this case, hemorrhoids.
  • Rectal cancer is distinct from colon cancer. Epidemiological studies often combine colon and rectal cancer and report rates of colorectal cancer. Colon cancer is associated with a family history of colon or rectal cancer (particularly in younger people), obesity, physical inactivity, heavy alcohol consumption, consumption of red or processed meat, and inflammatory bowel disease. Rectal cancer is associated with age and sex without other clear factors. Adenomatous polyps are the main precursor of colon cancer, and are associated with tobacco smoking.
  • Stage I rectal cancer is very treatable. But if detected in Stage III, as in this case, the patient has a significant increase in the likelihood of recurrence and death.
  • Rectal bleeding is a major symptom of rectal cancer.
  • Frederick County
  • A family medicine doctor
  • Frederick Primary Care Associates, P.A.
Hospitals Where Patient Was Treated
  • Frederick Memorial Hospital
  • Failed to arrange further evaluation pursuant to the man's rectal bleeding
  • Failed to order a colonoscopy in light of the man's complaints of ongoing rectal bleeding and change in bowel habits.
Specific Counts Pled
  1. Survival Claim
  2. Wrongful Death
Plaintiff's Experts and Areas of Specialty
  • David August, M.D. - board certified in internal medicine; licensed to practice in Massachusetts
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