Florida – Oncology – Rectal Mass And Bloody Stool Misdiagnosed As Cancer Instead Of Endometriosis

On 4/15/2015, a 48-year-old female presented to the Mayo Clinic for an assessment regarding cancer treatment.

The patient presented with a history of a palpable rectal mass and bloody stool.  The patient presented to an oncologist after undergoing a colonoscopy and after a CT scan at Borland Grover Clinic revealed tumors suspicious for metastases.

The Borland Grover Clinic took a biopsy of the affected area.  Initial pathology indicated suspicion for adenocarcinoma.  Borland Grover clinic sent the sample to Cleveland Clinic for confirmation.  Cleveland Clinic returned a diagnosis of endometriosis, not cancer.

The oncologist did not obtain the pathology reports from Borland Grover Clinic or Cleveland Clinic.  The oncologist diagnosed the patient with rectal cancer with possible spread to the liver, lungs, and mediastinum.  The oncologist ordered an endobronchoscopic ultrasound (EBUS). The patient’s EBUS showed some concern for cancer, but the pathologist deemed the results of the EBUS insufficient for a definitive cancer diagnosis.

Despite not having a pathologic diagnosis of cancer, from May to July 2015, the oncologist ordered the patient receive a port placement and three chemotherapy treatments.

Due to continuing rectal pain, on 7/6/2015, the oncologist referred the patient to a colorectal surgeon.  As part of his review, the colorectal surgeon obtained the patient’s pathologic results from Borland Grover Clinic and Cleveland Clinic, which showed that the patient had endometriosis and not cancer.

On 7/16/2015, a Mayo Clinic pathologist reviewed the patient’s previous biopsy sample and came to a final diagnosis of endometriosis.  On 9/3/2015, two doctors performed a procedure to remove the endometrioma.

The Board judged that the oncologist’s conduct to be below the minimum standard of competence given her failure to obtain a pathologic diagnosis of cancer prior to initiating cancer treatment for the patient.

The Board ordered the oncologist have her license revoked, pay an administrative fine, and have remedial education.

State: Florida

Date: December 2017

Specialty: Oncology, Internal Medicine

Symptom: Blood in Stool, Mass (Breast Mass, Lump, etc.)

Diagnosis: Gynecological Disease

Medical Error: Diagnostic error

Significant Outcome: N/A

Case Rating: 4

Link to Original Case File: Download PDF

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