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Woman awarded $6.9M for breast cancer diagnosis errors

Early detection of breast cancer can greatly increase a woman's chances of survival. Women across the country, including here in Illinois, are encouraged to have mammograms done, which are normally the first step in discovering abnormalities in a woman's breasts that could be cancerous. If diagnosis errors occur at this stage, the window of opportunity to give a patient the best chances of survival can quickly close.

This is the argument that a couple made when it filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against a doctor and radiology practice in connection with a botched diagnosis in 2008. The woman had a mammogram that year that indicated an irregularity in one of her breasts. Despite the abnormality, the doctor did not order any follow-up testing to determine whether it was cancerous.

In 2010, the South Carolina woman was diagnosed with breast cancer. At trial, an expert testified that if the cancer had been caught back in 2008, her chance of survival would have been 80 to 100 percent. However, due to the delay in diagnosis, she has been given no more than three years to live. The jury awarded her approximately $6.2 million dollars. Her husband, who claimed loss of consortium, was awarded $700,000.

As is illustrated by this case, diagnosis errors can mean the difference between life and death for cancer patients. Illinois residents who believe that a mistake delayed a life-saving diagnosis might be able to recover damages through the filing of a medical malpractice claim. Before the court will order a monetary judgment, however, it will be necessary to prove that negligence occurred. These cases can be complex, and enlisting the assistance of counsel could help ensure that the responsible party or parties are held accountable.

Source:, "Columbia lawyers win $6.9 million verdict for breast cancer patient in claimed misdiagnosis in Charleston", John Monk, Jan. 22, 2016

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