An Allegheny County jury delivered a defense verdict in a case involving the death of a 62-year old woman from colon cancer, whose estate claimed that there was a failure to diagnose her cancer sooner. Burns White attorney, David R. Johnson, successfully defended the gastroenterologist who performed a colonoscopy in 2011 as well as his practice.
Plaintiffs claimed that the doctor failed to properly biopsy an ulcer he detected which, according to plaintiff’s expert, grew into the lethal cancer. Plaintiffs also alleged that the practice group failed to notify the woman properly of the need for a follow-up colonoscopy.
The physician’s experts explained that there was not a need to biopsy the ulcer in 2011, because it presumably was caused by heavy usage of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), and that the doctor appropriately instructed the decedent repeatedly that she needed to have a colonoscopy in 3-6 months to be sure that the ulcer went away after stopping NSAID usage. A gastroenterologist from Beaver described the defendant doctor’s care as “exemplary.”
Another defense expert, a gastrointestinal oncology specialist from Harvard, testified that the cancer involved was a very aggressive, fast-growing neuroendocrine tumor, which when found in 2013, could not have been in existence since 2011.
At the conclusion of the trial before Judge Michael DellaVecchia, the jury returned a 12-0 verdict in favor of both defendants.