Pennsylvania Cancer Misdiagnosis Lawsuit Results in $1.9M Award

A woman whose husband died after doctors failed to diagnose his bladder cancer in time for potentially life-saving medical treatments, was awarded $1.88 million earlier this month through a Pennsylvania medical malpractice lawsuit filed in Lackawanna County.

Terrence Golden died in January of this year from cancer that his wife, Christine Golden, alleged could have been treated if doctors had caught it in time. It took nearly two years of visits to an urologist and pathologist before the bladder cancer was discovered, despite repeated complaints that could have led to a diagnosis.

Misdiagnosis, or a failure to diagnose a condition, is one of the more common medical mistakes. With cancer, failure to diagnose can deprive a patient of important early treatments, which may not be available or as effective after time has passed.

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According to the National Cancer Institute, the prognosis for someone with bladder cancer is highly dependent upon the stage at which the cancer is diagnosed. Bladder cancer that spreads to other organs, as Golden’s did, is classified as invasive, and can often be cured in its early stages.

The Scranton Times-Tribune reported that Christine Golden’s wrongful death lawsuit resulted in judgment late last month against urologist Milan J. Smolko, who Terrence Golden saw multiple times between September 2002 and January 2004 to complain about urinary problems. Dr. Smolko diagnosed Golden with an inflamed and enlarged prostate and did no further investigations until July 2003. Dr. Smolko then sent a bladder biopsy to pathologist Lillian Longendofer, who also missed the cancer.

It took another doctor to discover Terrence Golden had bladder cancer, but by then it was June 2004. The cancer had already spread beyond the bladder to Terrence Golden’s prostate and portions of his urethra as well. The affected areas had to be removed, but eventually doctors told him that his cancer had advanced beyond their ability to treat.

The cancer misdiagnosis lawsuit in Pennsylvania was also originally filed against Dr. Longendofer and Wayne Memorial Hospital in Honesdale, however they settled out of court for unspecified amounts before trial. Dr. Smolko has appealed the decision.

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