Jury awards man's estate $6M over delayed liver cancer diagnosis — 8 insights

A Philadelphia jury awarded the estate of a 65-year-old deceased man $6 million after his physicians disregarded two seperate recommendations from radiologists to send the man for an MRI, The Legal Intelligencer reports.

Here's what you should know.

1. The man was diagnosed with hepatitis C and cirrhosis in 2007. He became a patient of gastroenterologist Steven Lichtenstein, MD, and primary care physician Harvey Soifer, MD, in 2009. He then became a patient of Eugene Choi, MD, in 2010. All three physicians are affiliated with Philadelphia-based Mercy Health System.

2. The man underwent an ultrasound ordered by Dr. Choi in December 2010. The radiologist recommended the man undergo the MRI to look for liver cancer.

3. Between December 2010 and April 2013, the man met with the three physicians multiple times, but none of the physicians ordered an MRI.

4. The man was admitted to a hospital in April 2013 because of blood in his stool. He underwent a CT scan of his abdomen and pelvis and a radiologist recommended an MRI. Once again, the physicians didn't order the MRI.

5. In June 2014, Dr. Lichtenstein ordered an ultrasound, which found no evidence of a mass. In October 2014, the man was admitted to an emergency room with severe abdominal pain. A CT scan was performed showing a ruptured liver mass, which was later confirmed by MRI. A biopsy confirmed the mass had originated from liver cancer.

6. The man was a poor candidate for surgery. He died Nov. 9, 2014.

7. The defense argued the physicians didn't order the MRI because the man had undergone "several radiology studies" in the past and none had showed signs of hepatocellular carcinoma. The patient also had several other comorbidities. Dr. Choi said the man had, "outlived his life expectancy."

8. Despite the $6 million award, Dr. Lichtenstein and Dr. Soifer already settled with the family for confidential amounts before the trial. Dr. Choi was found to be 32 percent liable, however Dr. Choi and the man's estate entered into a high-low agreement before the jury came back with the verdict. The estate will receive an unspecified amount.

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