A Doctor's Failure to Properly Read Two CAT Scans Misses Lung Cancer Diagnosis; Shelby County Jury Holds Him Accountable with $3 Million Verdict

S. Shay SamplesA Shelby County jury found Dr. Manuel Carcelen, with Pulmonary Medicine Associates, P.C., responsible for the failure to diagnose lung cancer as evidenced by suspicious abnormalities in two 2008 CAT scans.

The radiologists who had reviewed the scans noted the abnormalities, but these were ignored by Dr. Carcelen.

During Mr. Vernon B. (Burt) Williams’ hospitalization for Pneumonia in February of 2008, a CT scan was obtained and found to be abnormal, at which time Dr. Carcelen was consulted regarding treatment and care of Williams. In April of that same year, a second CT scan of Williams’ chest and lungs was obtained and was, once again, abnormal, specifically in the left lung. The radiologist’s impression at that time was that considerations certainly should include cancer and follow-up was recommended.

Immediately following the second CT scan, Williams had a follow-up visit with Carcelen, where he discharged Williams from further care and treatment. Carcelen never disclosed that the radiologist’s interpretation of the CT scan was abnormal and suspicious of lung cancer.

Two and a half years later, in November of 2010, Williams underwent a third CT scan which subsequently revealed metastatic lung cancer. He subsequently passed away on July 15, 2011.

Representing the Williams family was Shay Samples, Ralph Cook, and Devan Byrd of Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton, LLP.

“This case shows the blatant disregard for the minimum standard of care from Dr. Carcelen,” said Samples, who served as lead counsel on the case. “If this physician would have simply erred on the side of caution and patient safety, this cancer could have been treated. Instead, we have a widow who is grieving for her husband of 51 years.”

After a week-long trial, the jury found in favor of the plaintiff and awarded $1 million in compensatory damages and $2 million punitive damages, which is the largest medical malpractice verdict rendered in Shelby County.


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