Lawyers at DBMS successfully litigate a wide variety of civil cases and argue appeals in some of the most challenging jurisdictions in the country.

Professional Liability

Plaintiff v. Defendant Gastroenterologist

07/02/2019
Client:

Defendant Gastroenterologist

Outcome:

Verdict for Defense

Synopsis:

DBMS attorneys successfully obtained a verdict on behalf of defendant gastroenterologist in a lawsuit arising from an alleged five-and-a-half-year failure to diagnose plaintiff with a neuroendocrine tumor.

The plaintiff initially presented to the defendant’s office in 2008 with abdominal pain and diarrhea. CT imaging revealed thickening in the terminal ileum consistent with infection or Crohn’s. Biopsies and a hepatobiliary scan confirmed a diagnosis of gallbladder disease. The plaintiff’s gallbladder was removed. The plaintiff returned to the defendant’s office in 2010, 18 months after her gallbladder was removed. She reported a recurrence of abdominal pain and diarrhea. A second abdominal CT scan again identified thickening in the terminal ileum which the radiologist thought was likely Crohn’s disease. Biopsies confirmed a diagnosis of microscopic colitis. The plaintiff responded to treatment for her microscopic colitis. The plaintiff returned to the defendant’s office in 2011 and reported a recurrence of abdominal pain and diarrhea. A third CT scan revealed thickening of the terminal ileum which the radiologist believed was suggestive of Crohn’s disease. A video capsule endoscopy identified an ulcer in the area of the thickening in the terminal ileum, which was consistent with Crohn’s disease. The plaintiff was treated with medication for microscopic colitis and Crohn’s disease. Two years later, an MRI obtained after a cardiac event revealed an in incidental finding of metastatic disease in the liver. Subsequent testing confirmed that the thickening observed in the terminal ileum in the three previous CT scans was a neuroendocrine tumor.

The plaintiff alleged that the defendant gastroenterologist should have obtained a surgical resection of the terminal ileum, which would have led to a diagnosis of her neuroendocrine cancer in 2008. The plaintiff alleged that her neuroendocrine cancer could have been cured if treated in 2008, 2009, or 2010.

The defendant gastroenterologist argued that neuroendocrine tumors in the terminal ileum are extremely rare and are difficult to diagnose because their primary symptoms of abdominal pain and diarrhea coincide with a number of far more common diagnoses. According to the defense experts, the defendant’s diagnosis was reasonable and within the standard of care as the diagnosis was supported by pathologic diagnosis, and consistent with the opinions of three radiologists that reviewed abdominal imaging in 2008, 2010, and 2011. The defense experts further opined that the plaintiff’s tumor metastasized in 2008 and earlier treatment would not have changed the outcome.

The plaintiff asked for $11.2 million. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the defense after 90 minutes of deliberations.