$430,000 awarded over treatment delay Woman's mammogram misinterpreted in 1993

cancer diagnosed in 1994

September 25, 1998|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

A Carroll County jury awarded $430,000 yesterday to a former Mount Airy woman whose treatment of breast cancer was negligently delayed by a misinterpretation of a mammogram in 1993.

Lawyers for Wendy Jane Shullenbarger, 39, of Shepherdstown,

W.Va., filed the civil malpractice lawsuit in 1996 against Advanced Radiology of Pikesville and Westminster Imaging, which operates at Crossroads Square shopping center as Med-Care Imaging Inc., court records show.

Shullenbarger subsequently had breast surgery and underwent chemotherapy treatments, court records show.

Her doctors have found no clinical evidence of the cancer returning but indicated the risk of recurrence is about 75 percent.

The Circuit Court jurors reached a split verdict.

Dr. Harry Knipp was found guilty of "breaching the standard of care" in his interpretation and reporting of the results of a mammogram performed June 30, 1993, on Shullenbarger.

The panel concluded that his negligence harmed Shullenbarger physically and mentally, awarding $200,000 for future medical expenses, $100,000 for future lost wages and $130,000 for noneconomic damages, records said.

The jury found Dr. Richard Haar not guilty. Knipp and Haar were directly or indirectly associated with Advanced Radiology and Med-Care and should have reported test abnormalities to their client's doctors, according to Shullenbarger's lawyers.

Shullenbarger, a minister with the Baltimore-Washington Conference of United Methodist Church since 1988, first encountered breast-related medical problems in 1987, the documents said.

She was treated and had regular checkups and mammograms, but her cancer was not diagnosed until August 1994.

Dr. Arnold Schwartz, chief breast pathologist at George Washington University Medical Center in Washington, said a primary tumor in Shullenbarger's breast was allowed to quadruple in size before it was correctly diagnosed.

Similarly, lymph node cancer spread sixfold because of an incorrect diagnosis, the doctor said.

Pub Date: 9/25/98

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