Negligence during cancer treatment causes woman lifelong disfigurement, pain

Florida, Fla. (November 10, 2011) – Attorney Nancy La Vista with an associate, of West Palm Beach-based Clark, Fountain, La Vista, Prather, Keen & Littky-Rubin, won a $6,320,000 arbitration award for their clients, Belinda and Scott Burns, against Treasure Coast radiation oncologist, Ronald Woody, M.D., an employee of Mid-Florida Radiation Oncology, PA in association with Port St. Lucie Ventures. The line verdict was declared on November 3, 2011 by Judge Leonard Fleet in the capacity as arbitrator for a claim pending in the Circuit Court of the 19th Judicial Circuit in St. Lucie County, Florida.

Based on the evidence presented, including expert testimony, Judge Fleet found Dr. Woody negligent of administering an overdose of radiation to treat squamous cell cancer in situ on Ms. Burns’ hands, which resulted in radiation burns and radiation fibrosis that have caused disfigurement and the likelihood of future amputation of one or both hands. The verdict now needs to be collected, as Dr. Woody and his facility made the business decision not to carry malpractice insurance.

The settlement recognizes Dr. Woody’s negligence and grants damages to Belinda Burns for past and future medical expenses, lost earnings, pain and suffering, disability, disfigurement and mental anguish due to her physical defect; and awards damages to her husband, Scott Burns, for the loss of his wife’s services, comfort and attentions in the past and future caused by the incident.

“Although this is a great victory for my client, it in no way can undo the damage inflicted on her, emotionally and physically, by the negligence of this physician,” said Nancy La Vista, the Burns’ attorney. “This verdict, when collected, will hopefully provide the means, through lifelong treatment and rehabilitation, for her to regain a small portion of the quality of life she once had.”

The plaintiff, Belinda Burns, had squamous cell cancer in situ, a precursor to skin cancer known as Bowen’s Disease, located in the epidermis of her hands. She sought radiation therapy treatment from Dr. Woody following a referral, and after her consult with Dr. Woody, subsequently underwent radiation therapy under his direction and treatment plan at Mid-Florida Cancer Center. She was advised by Dr. Woody that the most damage she should expect from the therapy would be a sunburn with “skin effects” resolving several weeks after completing therapy. Ms. Burns reacted severely to the start of the radiation treatment plan, and Dr. Woody changed the treatment plan without seeing and consulting with his patient. According to testimony, Dr. Woody increased the treatment plan total dosage. In court, Dr. Woody refused to accept responsibility for the change in treatment, despite records demonstrating that the treatments were ordered. In testimony, one expert witness noted that the radiation dose to the hands and thumb were levels he had never seen before.