Medical malpractice

Oncologist Charged In Six Patient Deaths

June 23, 2021 by James McHugh, Jr.
medical malpractice attorneys

When we are sick, we put our trust in doctors and physicians to take into account our ailments and to work to make us better. Whether it’s a minor cold or sinus infection or even something more detrimental such as cancer, patients expect a certain quality of care from these specialists – and the law requires it. However, when the applicable standard of care is not met and patients are neglected or treated in ways they simply do not need, the ramifications can be unavoidable. This unfortunately is exactly what happened to several cancer patients in New York.

In 2018, the New York State Health Department charged the former president of CCS Oncology, Dr. W. Sam Yi, with gross negligence and incompetence in his treatment of seven different patients, six of which died, between 2009 and 2013 at various CCS locations. Administrative documents reveal that if the charges against Dr. Yi are sustained, he will have his medical license suspended, and face fines and other state sanctions. The case remains ongoing.

CCS Oncology was once one of the area’s largest private cancer practices. It’s non-oncology branch, CCS Medical, shut down after FBI agents raided locations in Erie and Niagara Counties after the practice filed for bankruptcy protection. The details within the Health Departments filing align with the lawsuits filed by former patients and/or their estates, which claim Yi and CCS Oncology provided inadequate treatment.

Yi began practicing medicine in New York in 2006 and served as president and CEO of CCS Oncology, leading to a rapid expansion of the practice. In 2012, Yi provided whole-brain radiation therapy to a 43-year-old female patient for a six-week period. This was done contrary to medical indications and without taking into account prior doses of the treatment. She died on December 20th of that same year. Yi also treated a 72-year-old male patient with prostate radiation therapy that exceeded commonly prescribed doses for his disease and without considering alternative treatments. This included potentially unnecessary radiation therapy of the jaw, which didn’t take into account previous rounds of radiation. He also died that same year.

These and other very similar courses of treatment outlined in the Health Department filing led the State Board for Professional Medical Conduct to charge Yi with gross negligence, gross incompetence, negligence, incompetence, and failing to maintain records on more than one occasion.

Unfortunately, inappropriate cancer treatment, as well as cancer misdiagnosis, is all too common when it comes to oncologists. The National Cancer Institute estimates that more than 1.5 million people will be diagnosed with cancer this year and more than 15 million people are currently living with cancer. Despite the wide prevalence of cancer, thousands of patients receive a cancer misdiagnosis or are treated for cancer using inappropriate methods.

Time is of the essence when treating cancer. Misdiagnosed cancers or the failure to diagnose cancer at all could mean weeks or months before a proper diagnosis is made and treatment can begin. With the help of tests and scanning equipment, doctors – especially oncologists and cancer specialists – can and should properly diagnose most cancers; however, sometimes doctors fail to perform these tests, and this can be devastating for patients.

The Most Commonly Misdiagnosed Cancers:

  • Lymphoma – Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system, the system that acts as a drainage system transporting fluid from the tissues into the bloodstream. The lymphatic system is also crucial to the immune system. Because lymphoma is most common in men, women and children are at a higher risk of lymphoma misdiagnosis.
  • Breast Cancer – Breast cancer is most commonly marked by lumps in the breast or unusual breast shape. Breast cancer misdiagnosis can be particularly devastating for young women, who often suffer from more aggressive types of breast cancer than older women.
  • Sarcomas – Sarcomas are a type of cancer that grows within connective tissues that support other types of tissues in the body like bones, muscles, tendons, cartilage, and nerves, among others. Sarcomas are often misdiagnosed as benign soft tissue tumors.
  • Brain Cancer – Brain cancer can be difficult to diagnose because the most common symptoms are generic, including headaches, loss of balance, confusion, and seizures. However, many people do not experience any symptoms.
  • Lung Cancer – While smoking and other tobacco products can greatly increase a person’s chances of developing lung cancer, anyone can develop it. The most common symptoms of lung cancer include coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. Because these symptoms are very generic, patients are at an increased risk of misdiagnosis.

When a doctor misdiagnoses or fails to diagnose cancer, the results are often devastating. This type of medical malpractice can lead to a prolonged, more intense illness, a lot more time off work, and serious pain and suffering on the part of the patient, all in addition to higher medical bills. A delayed diagnosis or a misdiagnosis can lead to a significant spread of the cancer and can even cause the cancer to metastasize into other organs. In addition, misdiagnosis often leads to the wrong type of treatment, which can cause the cancer to get worse and the patient to suffer additional problems.

If a doctor or other healthcare provider fails to diagnose cancer or any other condition in a timely manner that allows for adequate treatment for the particular form of cancer you have and your condition worsens as a result, you may be eligible for financial compensation. Healthcare providers must provide care that rises to a particular level of professionalism; and, if any mistake they make is considered one that no reasonably capable medical professional would make, they can be considered legally negligent and be held responsible for paying for the medical expenses and other losses that result from their errors.

Philadelphia Cancer Misdiagnosis Attorney

If you or a loved one have suffered or are suffering from the effects of the failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis of any form of cancer by a doctor or other medical professional, please contact an experienced Philadelphia medical malpractice attorney at Lopez McHugh LLP as soon as possible, so that we can evaluate your situation and discuss your ability to obtain compensation for their error.

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