Throat Cancer Misdiagnosis Lawsuit

Stanges v. Ear, Nose & Throat Associates

ENT examThis cancer misdiagnosis claim was filed in Baltimore City when an ENT physician failed to notice a man's throat cancer. It was filed in Health Claims Arbitration on January 26, 2018, and it is the 46th medical malpractice case filed in Maryland this year.

Summary of Plaintiff's Allegations

A man sought treatment from his otolaryngologist for discomfort in his right neck area and a recurring cough. The doctor conducted an exam and reported no evidence of abnormalities. Nine months later, the man went back to the otolaryngologist due to his recurring cough. Again, the doctor indicated no evidence of abnormalities.

The man continued to experience a recurring cough and soon began to have difficulties swallowing. Months later he went to another doctor for a throat scope examination. The results revealed a squamous cell carcinoma - a cancerous mass in his throat.

After receiving his diagnosis, the man underwent a total laryngopharyngectomy, involving the complete removal of his vocal cords. The man is no longer able to speak, which prevents him from continuing in his profession as a private pilot and lecturer.

Additional Comments
  • Most ENT malpractice claims are failure to diagnose. In most cancer misdiagnosis cases, having evidence that the cancer was clearly detectable at the time of a previous exam is the key to proving a physician's negligence. For example, in a case of misdiagnosed ovarian cancer, the cancer was visible on three CT scans taken over several months but the radiologist had mistaken it for an ovary that had already been removed.

  • Under Maryland law, it necessary for the victim's malpractice attorney to find an expert witness (a doctor in otolaryngology or a related field) to testify that the defendant doctor breached the accepted standard of care. It sound like it may have been negligence for the defendant doctor to treat the claimant's symptoms during his two visits without recommending additional diagnostic tests that would have done a more thorough job of detecting cancer. Still, it will be up to the victim's attorneys and their expert witnesses to prove that the cancer was present during the claimant's two visits with his otolaryngologist, and it was the otolaryngologist's duty to diagnose the cancer.

  • The two issues are negligence and causation. The first issue we already discussed. With respect to causation, the plaintiff needs to prove that if the diagnosis had been timely, the patient would have had a different outcome.

Jurisdiction
  • Baltimore City
Defendants
  • Ear, Nose & Throat Associates
  • An otolaryngologist
Negligence
  • Failing to diagnose the claimant's cancerous mass.
Specific Counts Pled
  • Medical Malpractice: The claimant suffered a growing cancerous mass and the removal of his vocal cords due to his otolaryngologist's negligent exams.

  • Respondeat Superior: The negligent otolaryngologist was an employee of Ear, Nose & Throat Associates, and as such ENTA is liable for the injuries suffered as a result of their employee's negligence.

  • Loss of Consortium: The claimant's wife suffered a loss of companionship because the claimant lost his voice as a result of his otolaryngologist's negligence.

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