August 15, 2001 - Doctors Sued Over Treatment Of Cancer Victim

Dr. Thomas Reis and Dr. William Herzig of The Vancouver Clinic were subjected to a two-week medical malpractice trial in Clark County Superior Court and are blamed for the death of their female patient who died of ovarian cancer on April 18, 1998 at the age of 52. Reis, 59, was the decedent's primary care doctor for two decades and saw her several times between 1995 and 1997. Herzig, a 42-year-old obstetrician, saw her only once. The lawsuit alleges that the doctors ignored key cancer symptoms like prolonged menstrual periods up to 18 days and abdominal cramping and bloating. Defense attorney Jeffrey Street said that the deceased "was never ignored or brushed aside in any way" and that "The silent killer of ovarian cancer is what caused Mrs. Hoover's untimely death, not medical malpractice."

Hoover had been a patient at the Vancouver Clinic since the late 1970's and had regular exams. "None of (the doctors) had suspected ovarian cancer until the moment it was diagnosed by a CT scan," Street said. Early detection of ovarian cancer is difficult and approximately 13,000 women die every year from the disease. While doctors use Pap smears to detect cervical cancer and mammograms to test for breast cancer, there's no test for ovarian cancer. Eighty percent of cases are not discovered until the cancer reaches its advanced stage.

Street said the fact that Hoover didn't respond to chemotherapy showed she had an aggressive cancer which, even had it been detected earlier, likely would have been fatal. "There was probably no cure in the cards for her," Street said, "simply because of the disease."

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