The great majority of Pap specimens are adequate specimens that are interpreted as normal. An adequate specimen is one in which there are a sufficient number of cells including endocervical cells represented. Yet, among those adequate specimens are ones where an existing disease process such as a pre-cancerous lesion or cancer are not represented because those cells were not harvested in the sample taken by the gynecologist. This is simply a sampling deficiency that occurs and is not medical malpractice.
A woman who is diagnosed with cervical cancer and who had a Pap specimen or specimens taken in the last few years before the diagnosis that was interpreted as normal should have the slide or slides reviewed. Though the greatest number of those Paps, interpreted as normal in women with a disease process, will have been read properly, meaning that the sample did not have the cells, there are many cases involving an interpretation error by a cytotechnologist or a pathologist at the lab.
Mr. Caputo promptly has reviewed many Pap slides for clients who have a cervical cancer diagnosis, and consequently has handled many cases in which the Paps in the last year to five years were misinterpreted. labs only keep the slides interpreted as normal for the required period of five years. Therefore, it is important to obtain those slides without delay.
Many women do not realize that their Pap slides are not evaluated by a pathologist who is an M.D., but rather are screened by a cytotechnologist who can screen up to 80 slides per day. Only slides with questionable cells or a recognized abnormal appearance are transferred to a pathologist for evaluation.
Mr. Caputo has obtained settlements in many cases in which the failure to diagnose a pre-cancer abnormality has allowed cancer to develop.
In one most tragic case, a wife and mother of teenage children was diagnosed with final stage metastatic cancer of the cervix. After obtaining her slides that were available, it was determined that the two specimens earliest in time were found abnormal but were not reported to be as serious as they indeed were. The test was repeated as required, but on a second repeat in the following year, the cytotechs at the lab failed to detect what was a clear abnormality. At a totally separate lab, the next three Paps were misinterpreted as normal when they showed developing cancer. The young housewife and mother died within nine months of her diagnosis.
Many defenses are interposed by the labs in this type of case, and Mr. Caputo's office has faced all of those, leading to successful settlements of the cases.
Law Office of John A Caputo services the following counties.