Medical Malpractice Suit Filed Against the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

The husband of a woman who died in June 2012 has filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and a former physician for failing to monitor or perform testing on a known liver lesion from 2008 through May 2011.

The deceased was originally referred to the Defendant physician in 2005 after the liver lesion was discovered during an evaluation for a blood disordered. After a few tests were performed, the physician recommended “watchful waiting” and planned to do additional tests sometime the following year. After failing to perform follow-up tests, the lesion ultimately became a malignant tumor that grew to the size of a grapefruit. It was eventually diagnosed in 2011 at the Mayo Clinic.

Sadly, chemotherapy failed, and cancer spread to other organs causing her eventual death in 2012.

It is hard to speak to the merits of this case.  Because a suit has been filed does not mean the medical center is responsible.  I have no idea if the defendant is liable.  But it a mistake was made, it makes a tragedy even more tragic, at least in a sense, because proper followup might have saved her life.

Liver Cancer

A number of cancers arise in the liver or biliary system.  Unlike many cancers, liver cancer (and liver disease) appear to be on the rise.  From 1999 to 2016, annual deaths from liver cancer doubled to 11,073.  Some people blame the Great Recession that began in 2018.  I have to think the reasons for the rise are more deeply rooted than that.

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), is one type of primary liver cancer which arises in the main functional cells of the liver. Angiosarcoma of the liver (ASL), another cancer that arises in the liver, comes out of the endothelial cells in the liver. Hepatoblastoma also arises in immature liver cells. But almost any cancer that you can think of can metastasize from some other part of the body to the liver.

You battle liver cancer by cutting it out with resection or by getting a transplant. There are also stories of radio-frequency ablations providing long-term survival.