Large Cancer in Colon Found Too Late, Says Woman's Family
3-12-2013 20:29:00

      MARLBORO, Md. (CN) - A man and his children are suing Kaiser Permanente Health Plan of the Mid-Atlantic States Inc., alleging that a lack of appropriate medical attention resulted in the death of their wife and mother.

     Josephine Sullivan came under the care of Kaiser physicians in 2000, and in 2003 she began complaining of loss of appetite and weight. That same year, she underwent a “flexible sigmoidoscopy,” but it was cut short because she could not stand the pain of the procedure. Doctors were only able to look 25 centimeters into her colon.

     “A rectal exam revealed no external hemorrhoids, no palpable internal hemorrhoids, rectosigmoid and descending colon with normal mucosa, no diverticulae, no polyps, no masses,” the complaint states.

     Sullivan was told to have a barium enema performed and to “repeat the procedure in five years,” but the procedure was never repeated, according to the complaint.

     Despite symptoms of weight loss and loss of appetite, Sullivan was never referred for a colon cancer screening, according to the complaint.

     Sullivan, who was 60 at the time, began experiencing severe pelvic and abdominal pains, causing her to seek medical attention. She weighed only 93 pounds, according to the complaint. A CT scan was performed on Feb. 25, which revealed a large mass. An exploratory surgery and biopsy of the mass the following day revealed stage IV colon cancer.

     Sullivan received “numerous” cycles of chemotherapy in 2008 and 2009, but additional masses were found. In fall of 2009, she was placed under the care of home hospice and died May 16, 2010 at the age of 62.

     According to the complaint, the defendants “failed to recommend a colonoscopy for Ms. Sullivan,” “failed to schedule a barium enema in the absence of a colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, or fecal occult blood test,’ and failed to “appreciate the significance of Ms. Sullivan’s weight loss and lack of appetite over a several year period,” among other charges.

     Her surviving family includes a husband two daughters and a son. The family is suing for medical negligence and wrongful death.

     Roxanne L. Ward and Carlos G. Stecco represent plaintiffs. CAL12-27039