Frequently, the patient discovers her own breast cancer. In this series, the patient made the initial finding of a mass in 33 of 46 (72%) cases where the initial discovery was clearly documented. The average indemnity in this group was $350,000. In the 13 cases where the physician initially detected the mass, the average indemnity was $156,538.
Overall, TDC closes more than 80% of its claims without any indemnity payment (5). When cases go to trial, TDC gains a defense verdict four of of five times. However, with breast cancer claims, the defense prevails less often. In this study, indemnity was paid on behalf of the defendant physician 33% of the time, and overall, 45% of breast cancer plaintiffs received payment from at least one physician defendant. The fact that the patient herself so frequently discovers the mass is an important part of the reason for this difference, because any delay in the ultimate diagnosis of cancer is apparent. Moreover, it is the patient herself who has brought the problem to the physician's attention, so it is difficult to excuse unnecessary delay. Therefore, it is not surprising that indemnity payments are considerably higher where the patient rather than the doctor initially detects the tumor ($350,000 vs $156,538). When the physician discovers the tumor, it is more likely that the patient has contributed to any delay in diagnosis.
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