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Pathologist error injures two patients

One of the jobs of a pathologist is to review and test samples sent to the lab to aid in diagnosis of various illnesses. In some cases, the specimens include tissue samples flagged for potential cancer. An error in the diagnosis can lead to serious harm. A case provides an example of how a single error led to the injury of two patients.

Patient #1: Unnecessary surgery with serious side effects

The error occurred in the lab. At some point there was an error in the lab. This error led to a switching of the slides. The pathologist tested each specimen for the presence of prostrate cancer. One was positive, one was not. The patients were notified, and treatment options were discussed.

The patient who was told he had prostrate cancer underwent surgery to remove the gland. The surgery resulted in serious side effects, including incompetence and impotence. Upon review of the gland, another pathologist reported there was no cancerous tissue. The man did not have prostrate cancer. The surgery was unnecessary. The life-long issues he now faces were avoidable.

He filed a lawsuit against the pathologist to hold the medical professional accountable for the financial damages that resulted from the error. A jury ruled in his favor and has awarded $12.25 million in damages.

Patient #2: Delayed diagnosis, delayed treatment

The other error: a patient with prostrate cancer did not receive prompt treatment. Instead, he went for weeks believing he did not have cancer. Such a delay can result in progression of the disease and additional injury. As a result, this second patient may also have a medical malpractice claim against the pathologist.

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