Hospitals Apologize for Lung Cancer Misdiagnosis

Steve Cid | December 3rd, 2014

Medical DoctorIn a frightening case of hospital misdiagnosis, a 46 year old Canadian father of two was mistakenly told he had inoperable lung cancer and had 12 months to live. The Hamilton, Ontario man was told in June by his physicians at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton that he had Stage 4 lung cancer and that he should immediately begin a chemotherapy regimen in a last ditch effort to forestall the inevitable.

He was forced to tell his two teenage daughters of his diagnosis and impending death, even as he was questioning whether a mistake had been made. He refused to start chemotherapy and said, “I did not feel like I was dying”. He related his doubts to his employer and received funding from an employee benefits program to undergo more tests in the US which confirmed that he had sarcoidosis, a treatable disease, and not cancer.

After four months and further testing by the two Ontario hospitals, his doctors confirmed that Mr. Reece was in fact misdiagnosed and did not have cancer.

NY lung cancer misdiagnosis

The chief executives at the two hospitals, St. Joseph’s and Hamilton Health Sciences, where Reece was referred for chemotherapy, have now apologized to Mr. Larry Reece. Dr. Hugh Fuller, chief of staff at St. Joseph’s said, “We are extremely sorry for what happened. This is an extremely unusual event”. Dr. Fuller confirmed that a specimen from Reece’s lung biopsy was cross-contaminated with another patient’s, who has terminal lung cancer.

Dr. Richard McLean, chief medical executive of Hamilton Health Sciences, stresses that 70,000 patients have tissue specimens biopsied annually at his facility without incident. He said this was “a one in a million kind of occurrence”.  He went on to say, “We can’t change that this happened, but hopefully we can prevent it happening in the future.”

US genetic expert Dr. Paul Billings, chief medical officer for Reece’s employer believed Reece did not have cancer and took up his case after reviewing Reece’s medical records. He praised the hospitals for acknowledging their mistake and moving quickly to rectify it. Billings said, “We need to reduce the errors in serious critical diagnoses to an absolute minimum.”

Reece himself hopes some good can come out of the story and warns the public that mistakes can happen. “If you have any doubts or feelings about your diagnosis, get that second opinion.”

Speak with a New York cancer misdiagnosis lawyer

Cancer misdiagnoses are more common thank you think, and their consequences are enormous for the individual and his or her family. In the Ontario case, the patient and his daughters lived under the burden of an inoperable cancer diagnosis for four months, but fortunately, the story had a happy ending. But a NY lung cancer misdiagnosis can also be tragic if signs or symptoms are missed through doctor or administrative error or misinterpreted lab results resulting in a patient failing to receive the proper treatment for a truly cancerous condition.

A New York cancer misdiagnosis lawyer can help you seek compensation from health care practitioners and medical service providers for pain and suffering, lost wages, loss of consortium, medical bills, emotional trauma and more. In addition, the treating hospital or medical center can be held liable via “respondeat superior”, wherein an employer is liable for the acts of its employees.

To discuss your legal rights and options with a New York medical malpractice attorney, contact The Sanders Firm for a complimentary case evaluation. Our veteran team of attorneys can answer all your questions and help you outline your best course of action for securing compensation. Call toll-free 1.800.FAIR.PLAY.


  1. Association of Corporate Counsel, NHS instructs GPs to double referrals to reduce cancer deaths http://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=ec84bc31-32d5-436f-8616-dda723d04fa0

  2. Brampton Guardian, Hamilton Father Misdiagnosed with Lung Cancer Demands Answers http://www.bramptonguardian.com/news-story/5029081-hamilton-father-misdiagnosed-with-lung-cancer-demands-answers/

  3. Medical Research.com, Three cases of Cancer Misdiagnosed as Lyme Disease http://medicalresearch.com/author-interviews/three_cases_of_cancer_misdiagnosed_as_chronic_lyme-disease/9263/