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$1.6M Settlement in Cancer Death Malpractice Case

A medical malpractice lawsuit claiming a woman died of ovarian cancer because doctors did not recommended she have her ovaries removed was settled for $1.6 million in 2001, according to a newly revealed court file.

The family of Ann Chadwick, the 41-year-old Bainbridge Island nurse who died, brought the case against Virginia Mason Medical Center.

The case was only revealed recently under pressure from probing news reporters.

“Nobody is going to bring this woman back from the dead,” said the Chadwick family’s lawyer, Adam Morrow. But her story “could sure save a lot of other lives,” he added.

Chadwick developed cancer in her right breast at 28. At 37, she was treated for another kind of cancer in her left breast. She had a daughter of six years old at that point.

“She wanted to live and be there for her daughter,” said holly Garrett, an old friend of Chadwick’s who said Chadwick always kept herself informed on her health.

A Virginia Mason oncologist, Dr. Robert Rudolph, saw Chadwick at least a dozen times from 1993 on. Rudolph noted that Chadwick had a family history of cancer; her mother had breast cancer, and her grandmother had ovarian cancer.

In 1995 Chadwick complained to doctors about pain she was experiencing in her pelvis and abdominal region, but the physicians missed numerous opportunities to refer her to a specialist for a pelvic ultrasound.

Chadwick underwent surgery for advanced ovarian cancer in December of 1996. She later underwent chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and a stem cell transplant before dying.

Chadwick’s attorney argued that doctors should have recognized the risk Chadwick had of developing ovarian cancer, and advised her to remove her ovaries given her family history, and “medical literature for several decades in hundreds and hundreds of articles and textbooks.”

Dr. Henry T. Lynch, the expert on hereditary cancer who first identified the syndrome, said it was not a matter of if, but rather when Chadwick would develop ovarian cancer.

During proceedings, another expert, Dr. Hoa Nguyen, a Florida oncologist called Chadwick a “walking time bomb waiting to develop ovarian cancer.”

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