Failure to Biopsy Leads to Delayed Diagnosis of Oral Cancer, $1.8M Settlement

January 22, 2019 | Strategic Insights for Ambulatory Care


​An oral specialist in Virginia was held liable for a $1.8 million settlement after the death of a patient from oral cancer, according to a report from the December 2018 Medical Malpractice Verdicts, Settlements & Experts (subscription required). The 63-year-old patient's general dentist referred him to the defendant oral specialist to treat an oral lesion that appeared consistent with potential cancer. The defendant oral specialist allegedly assumed the lesion was noncancerous periodontal disease. The defendant did not perform a biopsy during the 17 months the patient was being treated. Instead, the defendant prescribed roughly 12 courses of antibiotics and nine courses of pain medication, as well as performing multiple debridement procedures and extractions. The lesion did not heal and the patient was referred to an oral surgeon for a biopsy.

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