Sandra Iorio and Jillian Book Secure Defense Verdict
In September, ARP attorneys Sandra Iorio and Associate Jillian Book obtained a defense verdict on behalf of a hospitalist and her group in a case involving allegations of failure to timely diagnose lung cancer. The hospitalist was consulted during the plaintiff’s psychiatric admission for a chest x-ray which, by report, showed an opacity which may represent pneumonia. Plaintiffs also sued the hospital, the two attending psychiatrists responsible for the patient’s care and discharge. The hospitalist diagnosed plaintiff with community acquired pneumonia, based on the chest x-ray report and patient’s report of a cough. She prescribed – antibiotics and advised the patient to follow up with her PCP after discharge. The plaintiff alleged she was never informed of the abnormal chest x-ray result, she was told only that she had a lung infection and not “pneumonia”, and was never told during the consultation or at discharge to follow up with her PCP. The instructions to follow up were not included in the written discharge instructions issed to her at discharge. She was diagnosed with Stage 3A adenocarcinoma of the lung fifteen months after the admission at issue, and had experienced a recurrence and limited metastasis to the brain nine months before trial. At the time of trial, however, no cancer was evidence on PET scan.Expert testimony established the cancer was present at the time of the admission at issue, and an earlier stage, but whether it could have been diagnosed based on the chest x-ray and whether follow up was required under the standard of care was in dispute. While the treatment would have been the same if diagnosed earlier, plaintiff was claiming a lost chance of survival, and her husband was claiming loss of consortium. Counsel asked for an award of $2 million for the plaintiffs, to compensate for pain and suffering, loss of normal life, shortened life expectancy and the claim for loss of consortium. The jury returned a verdict in favor of all defendants after deliberating less than an hour and a half, including time for lunch.