Woman’s 2008 Cancer Death Leads to $16.7 Million Malpractice Verdict

December 22nd, 2016

By Dean I. Weitzman, Esq.


When Jeanne Ellis went to a hospital emergency room in October 2006 in Boston complaining of a persistent cough, a doctor ordered a chest X-ray and then sent her home with antibiotics to treat what he said was an upper respiratory infection.

Thirteen months later, as her symptoms worsened, Ellis again went to the hospital, where this time she was discovered to suffer from advanced lung cancer. Less than a year later, Ellis died in August 2008 at the age of 47 after the cancer spread throughout her body.

Now, almost six years after her death, a Massachusetts jury has awarded a $16.7 million medical malpractice verdict in the case to Ellis’ daughter, who sued the doctor and the hospital in connection with her mother’s care, according to a June 30 story in The Boston Globe.

The verdict was awarded after the jury found that Ellis’ “radiologist missed evidence of the cancer in a chest X-ray,” the story reported. The lawsuit was filed by the victim’s daughter, Johnette Ellis, against defendants Dr. Peter Clarke and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where the patient was seen.

When the doctor first examined Ellis during her original ER visit in October 2006, her ordered the chest X-ray to rule out pneumonia and after examining the results, he determined it to be normal, the paper reported. When the patient returned to the hospital 13 months later, a CT scan ordered by a different doctor turned up “advanced lung cancer,” according to the Globe story. “Within seven months, the cancer spread to her kidney, liver, spine, and pubic bone before she died.”

The Ellis family’s legal team “presented evidence that the original 2006 chest X-ray showed a 1.5-centimeter nodule in Ellis’ upper right lung, which grew to about 2.5 or 3 cm. by November 2007,” the story reported. Many new nodules throughout her lungs were also found through the CT scan that were not present at the time of the original chest X-ray, the story reported.

These kinds of cases are a somber reminder that patients and their families must be vigilant about the medical care they receive so they know what is being done for a patient’s care every step of the way. But at the same time, patients and families aren’t doctors and they can’t know every question to ask.

That’s where skilled, expert, compassionate and thorough legal representation is needed by patients and their families who have been harmed by medical errors or omissions during their treatment. These kinds of cases happen on a regular basis, but they can be fought by legal teams that are prepared to battle for their clients’ rights all along the way to a fair settlement or to a just verdict.

We here at MyPhillyLawyer stand ready to assist you with your legal case if you or a loved one is ever seriously injured in a similar medical malpractice, birth injury or related case anywhere in the United States. We represent the families of victims who die in such tragedies as well, to ensure that their families receive every penny of damages that they are eligible to receive.

Call MyPhillyLawyer at 215-227-2727 or toll-free at 1-(866) 352-4572 anytime and our experienced, compassionate, aggressive team of attorneys and support staff will be there for you and your family every step of the way as we manage your case through the legal system.

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