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June 1969

Failure to Diagnose Cancer of the Maxillary Sinus

Arch Otolaryngol. 1969;89(6):915. doi:10.1001/archotol.1969.00770020917023

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MALPRACTICE awards can be made for errors of omission as well as of commission, as for failure to carry out accepted methods of diagnosis of cancer, when the failure resulted in injury to the patient or substantially deprived him of a chance for a cure. An instance in the field of otolaryngology is cited in the Oct 21, 1968, Law and Medicine Department of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

A patient who had served in the US Navy in World War II was first treated for sinusitis in a naval hospital in New York in 1944. A radioactive contrast dye, thorium dioxide (trade name Umbrathor) was instilled in the left antrum and revealed a rounded shadow on the floor believed to be a polyp. In subsequent treatments by various physicians in a VA clinic his medical record from the naval hospital was not placed in his file. A

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