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LUNG CANCER SCREENING

Over the years our office has handled many cases relating to the failure to diagnose lung cancer and therefore institute early treatment so that the individual could survive. Because of the nature of some of the lung cancers early diagnosis does not always mean a cure but it may well increase the length of time an individual survives.

However, there is now a better chance at an early diagnosis. Based on the work of a Mt. Sinai physician and researcher, Dr. Claudia Henschke, the National Cancer Institute and Medicare have now approved and will pay for the screening of long time smokers.

Any individual, who has a 30 pack year history of smoking and is 55 years of age or older is entitled to have a Cat Scan done on an annual basis. Such screening will potentially lead to an early diagnosis and early treatment with potentially positive results. Everyone fitting into the above category should take advantage of the changes and obtain a scan.

One of the more interesting cases we handled involving lung cancer was unique. Our client had a routine Chest X-ray. The radiologist noticed a lesion and placed that information in his report. However the patient was already discharged from the hospital and his treating physician never saw the report, never contacted the patient and no treatment was instituted until the disease had progress for months. There was no question that the patient would die from his disease.

However, the patient was a policeman and he and ultimately his family would have been entitled to his pension had he worked in his position for 20 years. He died three days prior to completing his 20 years of work. Our position was that had treatment been started earlier, he would have lived the three extra days and would have qualified for his pension. While the family was unable to claim his pension they ultimately received compensation.

STROKES

When a patient suffers the signs and symptoms of a stroke, time is of the essence. The sooner the patient gets to a hospital, the sooner a diagnosis can be made and treatment instituted.

The traditional method of treatment has been the injection of clot dissolving drugs and they have to be administered within hours of the onset of symptoms. Even then there is only a 37% chance of success.

Just because there is only a 37% chance of success, everyone with symptoms of a stroke should get to a hospital immediately and seek treatment. If the patient gets to the hospital in time then there is few excuses for the treatment not to have been given.

However, a new treatment is evolving and while it will only be available at major medical centers initially, the reported results are interesting. Clot extractors in the hands of an invasive radiologist will allow the physician to enter the blood vessel and pull out the clot in its entirety. Early reports, in competent and trained hands, indicate a 100% restoration of blood flow to the brain.

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