April 24, 2018, PNLR News | The American Association For Justice Archive

April 24, 2018, PNLR News

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Unnecessary thyroidectomy

illustration of the inside of a neck, with the thyroids highlighted

A patient alleged that a surgeon failed to send the left thyroid lobe—which was suspected to be malignant—to pathology before removing the right thyroid lobe during the same surgery. Testing later revealed neither lobe was cancerous. The jury awarded $8.5 million. Dancyger v. Kocsis.

Rebecca Dancyger, 18, was diagnosed as having a cystic mass on her left thyroid lobe. Her primary care physician ordered a thyroid ultrasound and a fine needle biopsy. After a radiologist interpreted the ultrasound as benign, Dancyger made an appointment with general surgeon Cynthia Kocsis. The surgeon told Dancyger that the mass was likely cancerous and recommended surgery.

Dancyger underwent the procedure, which was to include removal of the left thyroid lobe with pathological review of the specimen before a determination of whether to remove the right thyroid lobe as well. During the surgery, however, Kocsis removed the entire thyroid. Subsequent testing revealed that neither lobe was cancerous.

As a result of the surgery, Dancyger experienced bilateral vocal cord paralysis, scarring, hypothyroidism, and anxiety. An active and successful student, she finished the rest of her senior year of high school at home and changed her college plans so that she could be closer to home.

Dancyger sued Kocsis, alleging she failed to perform a fine needle biopsy and send the left thyroid lobe to pathology before removing the right thyroid lobe.

The jury awarded $8.5 million.

Citation: Dancyger v. Kocsis, No. MON-L-003106-14 (N.J. Super. Ct. Monmouth Cnty. Jan. 17, 2018).

Plaintiff counsel: AAJ member Paul M. da Costa, Roseland, N.J.