Ovarian Cancer Allowed to Kill Woman, Family Claims
4-16-2013 00:04:00

PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) - Kaiser employee’s inaccuracies and ineptitude were key ingredients in the death of a woman whose ovarian cancer was not detected until three years after she presented with symptoms, her family claims in a complaint filed in Multnomah County Superior Court.

Christie Lee Suss, a school teacher and long-time Kaiser patient, was seen by Kaiser hospital staff in April 2009, complaining of abdominal discomfort, weight loss, bloating, constipation, diarrhea and cramping pain. A charted family history of malignant ovarian/breast cancer – her sister died from ovarian cancer – led to a transvaginal pelvic sonogram and ultrasound. Suss was treated for the same symptoms on June 3, 2009.

“It was recommended that if a colonoscopy was normal when performed, that a CT of her abdomen and pelvis would be considered. The colonoscopy was essentially normal, but the follow-up abdominal and pelvic CT was not done for over three years,” states a complaint filed by husband and estate representative Roger Suss.

Suss showed up at the hospital again on Nov. 28, 2011 with similar symptoms and underwent endovaginal imaging and abdominal ultrasound by defendant Robert Mahan M.D. on Dec. 8, 2011.

“Both exams were incorrectly reported to the plaintiff’s decedent as normal and essentially negative. The exams were not accurately read or reported,” the complaint stated.

Suss continued to see Dr. Mahan and Physicians Assistant Susan E. Wagner throughout 2011 and 2012.

The complaint says that “on or about July 30, 2012 plaintiff’s decedent was seen and treated by defendant Wagner for continuing abdominal symptoms including diarrhea and bowel problems. Defendants charted they would consider an ultrasound of the pelvis due to family history if she did not improve. Plaintiffs decedent’s spreading ovarian cancer was not diagnosed until mid-November 2012 when it was too late to save plaintiff’s decedent’s life.”

According to the complaint, doctors should have identified a mass and structure in the vicinity of Suss’s left ovary as a possible tumor as far back as April 30, 2009. There were other indicators that should have served as warnings and numerous procedures and processes that should have been followed, according to the complaint.

“As a direct and proximate result of the negligent acts and omissions of defendants,” Christie Suss’s ovarian cancer was “neither diagnosed nor treated by all of the defendants November 2012, allowing the ovarian cancer to grow and spread throughout plaintiff’s decedent’s abdomen, proximately resulting in her death as alleged.”

Roger Suss is suing for medical negligence and wrongful death, and is asking a court for an award of $850,000 in non-economic damages and pecuniary damages totaling $1.5 million.

Larry N. Sokol, of Sokol & Foster, represents the plaintiff.