Settlement reached in malpractice suit against Dr. Shah, WVHCS
June 1, 2001
Swoyersville woman claims doctor failed to diagnose tumor
By TIM GULLA
A Swoyersville woman who sued an area doctor and hospital system for their alleged failure to spot a visible tumor in a 1996 X-ray reached a confidential settlement on Thursday in Luzerne County Court.
The settlement ended jury trial of Tara Yaglowski's claims against Dr. Nareshkumar Shah, Wyoming Valley Health Care System and Nesbitt Memorial Hospital before defense attorneys delivered their opening statements in the case.
Yaglowski appeared relieved by the cessation of trial and embraced her family members and attorney after the case ended.
Wilkes-Barre Attorney Joseph Quinn, who represented Yaglowski, could not comment on the details of the settlement but could say, "it was an outstanding result (for Tara Yaglowski)."
He said, "Fortunately, she doesn't have to sit through three weeks of trial and have to tell her story again."
Quinn said even he had difficulty relaying Yaglowski's story to the jury "She's a very special lady and it really was an honor to represent her," Quinn said. "She's entitled to enjoy her time and we have been able to assure her of that ability."
Yaglowski's health problems began in September 1996 when she went to her family physician with complaints of chest pain. On Sept. 17, 1996, Dr. Shah read the X-ray for Yaglowski's physician and reported the film showed no abnormalities.
Because of Shah's finding, Yaglowski was diagnosed with possible tendinitis and directed to treat her pain with common remedies.
On Sept. 2, 1998, Yaglowski reportedly returned to her family physician with complaints of worsening pain in her left shoulder and upper ribs. A new X-ray showed she had a lesion measuring 7.5 centimeters by 2.5 centimeters in her left upper chest, according to court documents.
A CT scan reportedly confirmed the presence of a tumor. It was subsequently learned that the tumor was visible in the 1996 X-ray but that Dr. Shah had misread the films.
Since the tumor was diagnosed, Yaglowski has undergone two disfiguring but ultimately unsuccessful surgeries to remove the growth.
During those surgeries, portions of her ribs were removed, as were her clavicle bone and muscle in her left shoulder. The operations and radiation therapy failed to remove all of the tumor and Yaglowski's left arm is almost non-functioning, her attorney said.
Should her condition get worse, there is a possibility that Yaglowski may need a drastic surgical procedure called a "fore-quarter" amputation.
Attorney Quinn said: "It is a given that she still faces a very long and hard battle. She's done so courageously and she'll continue to do so."
Hopefully, Quinn said, medications would reduce her pain. He added that there is great hope that she will not have to endure the more radical surgery.
Attorneys for Dr. Shah and Wyoming Valley Health Care System declined comment about the case or the settlement.
Reportedly, Dr. Shah admitted during pre-trial depositions that he had misread the X-ray in 1996.
It was alleged that the doctor's failure to spot the tumor led to a two-year delay in treatment and that the tumor could have been removed completely had it been spotted earlier.
During his opening statements, Quinn argued his medical experts would say the misread X-ray in 1996 was "inevitable" because the hospital overworked its radiologists.
Quinn alleged that normal guidelines call for radiologist to review between 10,000 and 15,000 films a year.
Records obtained only one week ago reportedly showed that Shah conducted 23,896 studies in the 1996-1997 fiscal year.
Quinn argued this number did not include consultations Shah did at other facilities.
He also pointed out that Shah had many other duties within the hospital system.
Quinn argued that the four radiologists at Nesbitt Memorial Hospital were "forced" to read more than 20,000 X-rays, well above the normal guidelines.
"What happened on Sept. 17 (1996) was inevitable," he argued.
Quinn further argued that Dr. Shah wrote a letter to his superiors on Oct. 28, 1996, in which he requested the hiring of additional radiologists.
PLEASE NOTE: Every case is fact specific, and these results do not guaranty the same results will be obtained in a different case.