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I read a tragic story today about a British woman who recently died after doctors missed 30 chances to diagnose her cervical cancer. Jeannine Harvey was a 33 year-old mother of 4 who died as a result of cervical cancer. She died more than eight months after blood tests revealed health concerns. She first complained of pain in her leg and abdomen in December, 2011. Doctors did an ultrasound and blood tests, which revealed a 4cm mass in her pelvic area. A later laparoscopy seemed to show the mass had vanished, but she continued to complain of pain. She was back to the emergency room several times over the next several months, and many different doctors failed to diagnose her cervical cancer each time. She was told that anxiety was causing phantom pain, that bulging discs were responsible and that she might have sarcoma, a type of connective tissue cancer. She was ordered to start chemotherapy for the sarcoma, when it was discovered that she had cervical cancer. By the time they were able to start her treatment, the tumor had grown to 8cm, become infected and shattered her pelvic bone. She was put in hospice in July 2012 and died 10 days later.
The hospital admitted that there were “several areas where we fell short in our expected high standard of care.” The hospital went on to note that “It is clear that appropriate treatment would have brought forward the date of diagnosis and would have prevented pain and suffering.” In my years of practicing law, I don’t think I have heard of a hospital missing 30 chances to diagnose cancer, but the failure to diagnose cancer is a very common, and often devastating, problem. In addition to failure to diagnose cervical cancer, The O’Keefe Firm has helped families in failure to diagnose cancers of the brain, skin, lungs, breast and prostate. If you feel that doctors have waited too long and missed opportunities to diagnose your cancer, please call us at 937-643-0600 as soon as possible.