Jury awards $16.7M in Boston malpractice suit

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BOSTON (AP) - A jury has awarded $16.7 million to the daughter of a Boston woman who died of lung cancer after a radiologist missed evidence of the cancer in a chest X-ray.

The verdict this month against Dr. Peter Clarke of Brigham and Women’s Hospital is the largest this year in a medical malpractice case in Massachusetts, lawyers told The Boston Globe.

Johnette Ellis sued on behalf of her mother, Jeanne Ellis, who died in August 2008 at the age of 47.

Jeanne Ellis visited the hospital’s emergency room in October 2006 with complaints of a persistent cough, according to lawyers for both sides. A doctor ordered a chest X-ray to rule out pneumonia, which Clarke read and determined to be normal. Ellis was diagnosed with an upper respiratory infection and prescribed antibiotics.

Thirteen months later, Ellis again visited the hospital after her symptoms worsened. Another doctor ordered a CT scan, which showed advanced lung cancer. She died about seven months later.

Clarke’s lawyer, Philip Murray, said he plans to ask Suffolk Superior Court Judge Bonnie MacLeod for a new trial. Murray said Clarke’s interpretation of the X-ray was appropriate.

“We believe that Dr. Clarke acted in accordance with the diagnostic standards of care and that, sadly, Ms. Ellis’s cancer was incurable at the time Dr. Clarke became involved in her care,” the hospital said in a statement.

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Information from: The Boston Globe, http://www.bostonglobe.com

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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