September 3, 2019

A 39-year-old corporate lawyer was in the middle of her own two-week Maryland medical malpractice trial when she died of breast cancer on August 31, 2019. The well-respected lawyer, who was also a regent for the University System of Maryland, alleged in her Maryland medical malpractice lawsuit that the University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center failed to properly treat her for ductal carcinoma in situ in 2015, which is a curable form of breast cancer.

The plaintiff had found a lump in her right breast in 2015 and it was recommended that she have her right breast removed. The plaintiff elected to have both breasts removed. The plaintiff alleged in her Maryland medical malpractice lawsuit that her breast cancer doctor (surgeon) had discovered as a result of testing before her surgery that cancer cells may have already spread beyond the milk ducts in her breast. The plaintiff further alleged that the doctor failed to make it clear to her that testing after her mastectomy found a small tumor outside of the duct wall in her breast (the plaintiff alleges that she was not told that as a result, she was Stage 1A and not Stage 0, and therefore there was a small chance that the cancer could spread instead of having been cured by having her breast removed).

The Maryland medical malpractice lawsuit, which seeks $24 million in compensatory damages, alleges that her surgeon, who is the head of the defendant hospital’s Breast Center, advised the plaintiff that the surgery had removed all of the cancer (i.e., that she was “cured”) and that she did not need further treatment. The plaintiff alleges that during a roundtable discussion with other doctors involving the Breast Center’s cases, including her case, an oncologist participating in the discussion recommended that the plaintiff be referred to an oncologist to determine if it would be appropriate for her to use Tamoxifen. However, her surgeon, who was not an oncologist, never discussed the recommendation and only referred her to a plastic surgeon for breast reconstruction.

The plaintiff alleges that the breast cancer doctor breached the standard of care by failing to discuss with her and offer her treatment with Tamoxifen, which may have prevented a recurrence and the spread of her breast cancer. The defense argues that the breast cancer doctor provided appropriate care and treatment, and advised the plaintiff regarding her medical treatment options as well as undertaking the testing of her blood and sentinel lymph nodes after surgery that showed that her breast cancer had not spread at that time.

The plaintiff learned that her cancer had returned when she sought medical care in 2017 for back pain. She later learned that her cancer had metastasized to her bones, blood, and other organs.


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