New York Cancer Misdiagnosis Victim Awarded $15 Million

A New York woman, the victim of a cancer misdiagnosis, was just award $15 million in a medical malpractice lawsuit against her physician who missed the cancer in her breast lump.

Stephanie Tesoriero, 50, alleged that her doctor misdiagnosed her cancer, even though she went to him with a lump in her breast, said NBC New York. According to Tesoriero, the mistake cost her time needed to fight her cancer. “This could have all been avoided,” Tesoriero said, wrote NBC New York.

In 2002, Tesoriero discover a lump the size of a marble in her breast; however, Dr. Paul Fisher’s conclusion was that there was “no evidence of malignancy.” He told Tesoriero to return for an exam in a year. Dr. Fisher is with the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Care Center in Stony Brook.

The lump never went away, said Tesoriero, who went under more tests 16 months later with a different doctor who said the lump, which he deemed cancerous, was the size of a golf ball. “Why didn’t they find it the first time?” Tesoriero asked. “Why didn’t they go the extra step and do a sonogram?” wrote NBC New York, which noted that Tesoriero is the mother of three children.

Tesoriero underwent a mastectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation treatments and her cancer went into remission for a time. Tesoriero sued her physician and, after a two-week trial, which ended last week, ended with the multi-million dollar award, said NBC New York.

NBC New York called Fisher’s lawyer twice, but to no avail. According to the news outlet, Fisher remains on staff at the Baldwin Breast Care Center, which was not named in the lawsuit and which did handle some of Tesoriero’s later treatment. A spokeswoman there also offered no comment, said NBC New York.

Tesoriero’s lawyer said, concerning Fisher, “They found him negligent because he was… There was something there, something she felt, and it needed to be evaluated and if it had been, we would not be here now.” Her prognosis is not clear and Tesoriero must receive chemotherapy weekly for the rest of her life, noted NBC New York.

“I don’t want to see anybody else go through this,” Tesoriero said. “It’s a tough fight.” Tesoriero said she has spoken out to serve as a warning to other women. “If you have any suspicions, any doubts,” she said, “speak to the doctor and ask for another test,” she added, wrote NBC New York.

On a similar note, we previously wrote about a study that found that some procedures used to obtain and examine tissue for a cancer diagnosis may lead to a misdiagnosis in up to 12% of patients. That study appeared in the peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society: Cancer.

The study found that the frequency and cause of cancer diagnoses errors has not been well studied because of a lack of national standards for error detection. The team reviewed tissue specimens, pathologist’s findings, and medical records from four medical institutions in the United States. Because patients often undergo multiple tests to diagnose cancer, the researchers reviewed patient material when the diagnoses differed on multiple tests from the same patient. Errors, for the most part, were due to poor specimen collection; the proportion of errors caused by pathologist misinterpretation was 5 to 50 percent. When pathologists reviewed specimens from other institutions, they frequently disagreed with the assignment of error cause or type of patient harm the error provoked.

Study author, Dr. Stephen Raab, and his colleagues found that the potential number of Americans who encounter diagnostic errors is large—about 300,000 cancer patients annually—because of the variation in clinical environments, which impairs the ability to truly understand the error causes. “The standardization and uniform reporting of errors in cancer diagnosis is a first step in improving safety,” the authors concluded.

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