Brooklyn Mom Dies of Misdiagnosed Cancer at 41 Years Old

Shay Morrigan | March 21st, 2013

Hospital NegligenceAccording to a ten-year retrospective study of lethal cancers, published in the British Medical Journal, in 44 percent of cases, the cancers were not diagnosed or were misdiagnosed before death. A later study published in 2011 found that more than one-third of cancer cases in Britain are initially missed by general practitioners. More than 300 patients a day eventually diagnosed with cancer had their symptoms previously dismissed or misdiagnosed as minor ailments.

Brooklyn mom Lavern Wilkinson never intended to become part of these statistics, but on March 7, 2013, she passed away from treatable lung cancer that went unnoticed by Kings County Hospital doctors two years earlier. She was only 41 years old.

Victims of hospital negligence may file a medical malpractice lawsuit and successfully recover damages. Unfortunately, Wilkinson learned about her cancer too late, and was unable to pursue such a case because of the state’s 15-month statute of limitations.

Hospital negligence may lead to misdiagnosis of cancer

Though science has made great strides in helping to detect many types of cancer while they are still treatable, some cases continue to be missed. Screening alone isn’t enough. Doctors must be alert to the common signs and symptoms of various types of cancer, and order the testing necessary to determine a diagnosis. If they fail to do so, they may be held liable for doctor negligence.

In Wilkinson’s case, she arrived at the Kings County Hospital emergency room on February 2, 2010, complaining of chest pain. Her doctors ordered an EKG and chest X-ray. The radiologist later spotted “a suspicious two-centimeter mass in her right lung,” according to the NY Daily News. This was a type of lung cancer that could have been easily treated at the time. Yet Wilkinson was never given the results, and instead was sent home by a first-year resident, who simply told her to take an over-the-counter pain reliever.

Later diagnosis reveals doctor negligence

It wasn’t until 2012 that Wilkinson was properly diagnosed with lung cancer. In May 2012, she returned to the same hospital with a chronic cough, and again doctors ordered a chest X-ray. This time, they found that the lung cancer had spread to both lungs, her liver, and her brain. The disease had progressed to the point that it was no longer treatable, and Wilkinson was told that she had terminal cancer.

During that visit, in addition to the devastating news of her diagnosis, the attending physician told Wilkinson the hospital had misdiagnosed her condition during her 2010 visit. Though it was clear the hospital should be held liable for hospital negligence, Wilkinson now had only six months to a year to live.

New York medical malpractice lawyers tried to help

Wilkinson checked with medical malpractice lawyers about filing a hospital negligence lawsuit, but found out that since the error occurred in 2010, she was already beyond the 15-month statue of limitations, and could not file. She was forced to accept a $625,000 settlement from the city, but this amount is likely much lower than the millions she could have recovered in a doctor negligence lawsuit.

Considering a hospital negligence lawsuit

Doctors are trained to recognize the potential symptoms of cancer, and know to follow up on suspicious looking X-rays and radiological reports. If you or a loved one suffered serious injuries because of a missed cancer diagnosis, you may be eligible for a hospital negligence or malpractice lawsuit.

Contact the New York medical malpractice lawyers at The Sanders Firm right away, to avoid missing your window of opportunity due to the state’s statute of limitations. Our professionals can guide you through the complicated legal process so that you can concentrate on healing. Call today for a free initial consultation. 1-800-FAIR-PLAY