Plaintiff, age 69 at the time of trial, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in December 2007. He consulted with his urologist and then the defendant radiation oncologist about his treatment options. On May 1, 2008, plaintiff underwent prostate brachytherapy with defendant. The procedure involved inserting needles into the prostate gland and depositing 119 radioactive Iodine seeds to kill the cancer cells. In the months following the seed implantation procedure, plaintiff suffered urinary and bowel symptoms such as increased frequency, urgency, pain and occasional incontinence. Plaintiff, who was retired from his career at the Department of Defense, but working as a consultant for Booz Allen at the time, characterized his symptoms as extreme and actually considered suicide. He alleged that his symptoms forced him to resign from his dream job with Booz Allen. In time, plaintiff’s symptoms abated. He had seen no physician for his complaints in three years.
Plaintiff, who is retired in Florida, sued the defendant, contending that his implant was excessively hot, resulting in excessive symptoms and life-long suffering. Plaintiff testified that his post-op suffering surpassed that of concentration camp victims.
Defendant argued that the prostate brachytherapy procedure was an excellent implant because it cured the plaintiff of his prostate cancer and had minimal long-term side effects. Defense expert John Blasko, M.D., performed the first transperineal prostate brachytherapy procedure in the United States and is a world-renowned expert on the subject. He, along with a local radiation oncologist, both of whom had never testified at a trial before, explained that the plaintiff’s post-op symptoms were typical. Plaintiff called one of his treating physicians during plaintiff’s case-in-chief, who also testified that his post-op symptoms were classic and customary.
After four days of evidence, the jury deliberated for 45 minutes before returning a defense verdict.
Type of action: Medical malpractice
Injuries alleged: Permanent urinary and bowel dysfunction and pain due to excessive radiation to prostate
Name of case: Walsh v. Hanlan, M.D.
Court: Arlington Circuit Court
Case no.: 11-1664
Tried before: Jury
Judge: William T. Newman Jr.
Date: March 28, 2013
Verdict or settlement: Defense verdict
Attorneys for defendant: Byron J. Mitchell and Kristina L. Lewis, Fredericksburg
Attorneys for plaintiff: Patrick M. Regan and Amy S. Gurgle, Washington
Insurance carrier: Professionals Advocate
Plaintiff’s expert: Stephen J. Banks, M.D., radiation oncologist, Santa Rosa, Calif.
Defendant’s experts: John Blasko, M.D., radiation oncologist, Seattle; Matthew Poggi, M.D., radiation oncologist, Alexandria