Sommers Schwartz attorneys Robert Sickels and Matthew Turner secured a $1.3 million wrongful death settlement for the estate of a 25-year-old man who died from undiagnosed and untreated testicular cancer. The lawsuit alleged that the disease went undetected for months, even after repeated physician visits, multiple rounds of tests, and constant complaints of pain.
On March 9, 2018, the decedent presented to the emergency room with complaints of scrotal swelling and testicular pain he began to experience two days earlier and which had worsened since. An ultrasound revealed swelling likely due to torsion (twisting of the spermatic cord) and the possibility of a small mass. The emergency room physician consulted with the urology service. A urology resident physician performed a physical examination and ordered various blood tests, including a test for the presence of tumor markers—substances present in the blood when cancer is present.
That evening, the decedent was taken to the operating room to untwist the spermatic cord and relieve the torsion. Before the operation began, results of the blood tests were reported in the medical chart. The tests showed the patient likely had testicular cancer. The involved testicle should have been removed during the operation, but it was not. Instead, the surgeon noted in the operative report that there was no “obvious” evidence of a cancerous mass. The decedent’s records at the time of his discharge did not mention the tumor marker results or their significance
As instructed, the decedent returned to the hospital ten days later for a follow-up ultrasound. The study revealed the swelling of the testicle to be greater, not less, as would be expected had torsion been the sole cause of the initial symptoms. He also attended a follow-up visit at the urology practice, where he was seen by the surgeon’s colleague, who conducted a physical and concluded the decedent’s condition was consistent with expected post-operative changes.
Approximately one month after his initial ER visit, the decedent went to an urgent care center because the scrotal swelling and testicular pain were worse. He was told to return to the ER. There, a physician ordered a third ultrasound study, which revealed a testicle considerably more swollen than it was when the prior two studies were performed.
Discouraged that nothing was done to relieve the swelling, the decedent spent the next four months icing his painful and swollen scrotum. It wasn’t until September 3, 2018, after he began coughing up blood and went to a different ER, that he was diagnosed with testicular cancer, which had spread to other parts of his body. Despite surgical removal of the cancer and aggressive chemotherapy, the cancer continued to grow in his lungs and liver. He progressively deteriorated until he died in November 2019.
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