Mother ‘could have lived’ with early diagnosis

  • Latifa Maybury

    Latifa Maybury

A young mother who died of cancer could have lived if the disease had been spotted earlier, an overseas expert said yesterday.

Michael Leitman, the chief of general surgery at Mount Sinai Beth Israel hospital in New York, said that if Latifa Maybury’s colorectal cancer had been diagnosed in August 2012 and medical treatment started, it “would have allowed her an expected five-year survival of up to 60 per cent”.

He added: “When we say five-year survival, we say that the disease would have been treated successfully for cure.”

Mrs Maybury, who was 30, died in November 2013, six months after she gave birth to her son, Khaleel.

Her cancer was diagnosed days after the boy was born in May 2013, after it had gone unnoticed throughout her pregnancy, despite prenatal checks and several visits to the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital’s emergency room.

Kemar Maybury, Mrs Maybury’s husband, later launched legal action against the Bermuda Hospitals Board for $2.6 million in damages.

Dr Leitman said that there was “no evidence” from August 2012 that Mrs Maybury’s cancer had spread to the lymph nodes.

However, he said that by May 2013 her cancer was “incurable”. and that her prospects of survival “were minimal, at best”.

The Supreme Court heard on Monday that the couple had gone to the hospital in August 2012 after blood appeared in Mrs Maybury’s stool.

A doctor at the hospital said Mrs Maybury had haemorrhoids and the couple were told that a summary of the emergency room visit would be sent to her general practitioner, but that was never done.

Dr Leitman said that was a mistake and a “failure of handoff”.

He added: “This is a patient with a potentially life-threatening disease seen and released from the emergency department with concerns of the etiology of the rectal bleeding that was intended to be referred to a specialist for the purpose of having a colonoscopy, and this was never carried out.

“Unfortunately, this markedly delayed necessary treatment.”

Dr Leitman said that Mrs Maybury’s tumour would have been found if a colonoscopy had been performed after the hospital visit in August 2012.

He added that the hospital’s failure to identify the tumour in August 2012 and to send the summary of the ER visit to Mrs Maybury’s GP “puts the negligence and liability upon the hospital”.

However, Dickerman Hollister Jr, the medical expert for the BHB, said he believed Mrs Maybury’s cancer was more advanced in 2012 than Dr Leitman had suggested.

He added that it was “highly likely” that the cancer had already spread to Mrs Maybury’s lymph nodes.

Dr Hollister, a medical oncologist and haematologist at Greenwich Hospital, in Connecticut, said that Mrs Maybury’s five-year chance of survival would have been about 45 per cent.

He added: “That means that she has a 45 per cent chance of being alive in five years. She may be cured; she may not be. But she has a 45 per cent chance of being alive.”

The case continues.

It is The Royal Gazette’s policy not to allow comments on stories regarding court cases. As we are legally liable for any libellous or defamatory comments made on our website, this move is for our protection as well as that of our readers.

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