Recent Case Result
We recently represented a women, Christina Partridge (name changed to protect her privacy) who recently and tragically passed away due to stage 4 vulva cancer at 52 years old. She left her beloved husband and three children. But we now know things could have been completely different for Christina, if her treating primary care physician (PCP) Dr. Pierre (name changed to protect the identity of the doctor) did the things she was supposed to do by following up on Christina’s obvious signs of vulva cancer. Christina went to her PCP who she liked and trusted, initially and complained of irritation on her vulva area. Dr. Pierre examined her and noted her condition in her medical records, and suggested that it was probably just a yeast infection. She prescribed an anti-yeast medication. After about 6 months of applying the anti-yeast cream, Christina returned to her PCP and complained that the medication wasn’t working. Dr. Pierre suggested that she continue to use it. After 6 more months, Christina returned again with the same complaints, and at this point, Dr. Pierre suggested that she stop using the anti-yeast medication, and instead use a steroid cream. Christina used the steroid cream for about one year. That didn’t work either. At no time did Dr. Pierre take tissue and send it to pathology to rule out a yeast infection. Dr. Pierre continued to treat Christina for the same vulva condition over the course of several years using various creams including the anti-yeast and steroid creams. Dr. Pierre performed physical examinations and documented her findings. As the vulva condition began to change over time, and it became palpable, as Dr. Pierre could both see it and feel it. Dr. Pierre wrote in her medical records over the course of several years various words to describe her impression of Christina’s vulvar condition including: “Vulvitis,” “Erythematous,” “Vulvar Dystrophy,” “Lichen,” “Vulver Ulcer” “Vulva Infection” and “Lesion.” After almost 4 ½ years of treating the same vulva complaints, Dr. Pierre wrote in her notes that she was considering performing a biopsy on Christina’s vulva condition, but instead she decided to wait several more months before bringing her back in to her office to perform the biopsy. Finally, after almost 5 years of seeing Christina for the same vulva condition, Dr. Pierre performed a punch biopsy on Christina’s vulva condition in her office which took about 1 minute to do, and then sent the tissue out to pathology. The lab report it was vulva cancer. Further testing confirmed that it had metastasized to her lymph nodes and adjacent organs and was determined to be Stage 4 Vulvar Cancer. Christina went to Memorial Sloan Kettering where she underwent a three-part extensive surgery to her female genitilia. This involved a total radical Vulvectomy, a Urethrostomy and Cauterization of the Urethra procedure, and a permanently painful Plastic Surgery procedure. On top of that, Christina also underwent extensive chemotherapy and radiation treatments. When none of these treatments worked, Christina turned to a regiment of strong experimental drugs at the Cancer Institute. Christina fought for about 19 long months against her vulvar cancer diagnosis, until she finally died this past year from her vulvar cancer. We mourn the senseless loss of Christina’s life. But at least we were able to give Christina peace of mind in knowing that if Dr. Pierre, performed a simple punch biopsy anytime during her first several years of medical treatment, it could have caught Christina’s vulva cancer early before it metastasized and while it was at an early more treatable Stage. This would have given her the best chance for survival, limited her need for any surgery, and eliminated her need for adjuvant chemo/radiation therapy. The case settled before trial for a substantial undisclosed sum. The recovery went to Christina’s family.