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Kaiser Ignored Kidney Cyst, Woman Claims

ELLICOTT CITY, Md. (CN) - Kaiser ignored a kidney cyst that turned out to be cancer, a woman claims in the Circuit Court for Howard County.

Loistene Lassiter sued Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Mid-Atlantic States, Inc., seeking $5 million plus interest, costs, attorney's fees and a jury trial.

According to the lawsuit, Lassiter had a CT scan of her abdomen and pelvis on Jan. 10, 2008. The written report of her scan stated, "Subcentimeter hyperdense lesion involving the mid left kidney may represent a hyperdense cyst, or other etiology. Suggest correlation with sonography of the kidneys or consider follow-up with CT in three months to assess for stability or change," according to the complaint.

But the next day, Lassiter's doctor "informed Ms. Lassiter in a letter that her most recent CT revealed no acute findings," the complaint states. The suggested follow-up sonography or CT scan did not happen, it says. Over the next three years, as Lassiter had a variety of routine medical appointments for various conditions and procedures, "nothing was ever said of the hyperdense lesion on her left kidney nor did any follow-up occur concerning it," the complaint states.

"On Jan. 11, 2011, Ms. Lassiter reported to her doctor that she was experiencing lower back pain covering a period of three (3) weeks. She stated that the pain had expanded to the lower right side, below her stomach. She also indicated that heat and cold packs, Epsom salt soaks, and medication like Advil had not resolved the pain. She also mentioned that upon urinating, she experienced a burning sensation and noticed some blood," it continues. (Parentheses in complaint.)

Her doctor suggested a kidney stone or infection, according to the complaint. However, after a variety of tests over the next month, Lassiter was told she had a kidney mass, much larger than originally seen in 2008, "suspicious for neoplasm (i.e. new and abnormal growth, such as a tumor). What had been a millimeter in size (and not monitored by Ms. Lassiter's doctors) had now grown to centimeters, i.e., it grew from .02 inches to 1.5 inches," the complaint states. (Parentheses in complaint.)

Lassiter says she told her doctor she was upset by the lack of monitoring and discussion about the cyst and options for treating it. "Her doctor informed her that she never had conversations with her about the cyst because she did not know about it until recently! The doctor said that 'zillions of people have small cysts on their kidneys - it is incredibly common and not typically worrisome,'" the complaint states.

"Ms. Lassiter underwent major surgery to remove a part of her left kidney in June 2011. The pre and post operation pain, stress, and anguish were significant," the complaint states.

"Sharing the news with her family produced more mental anguish than Ms. Lassiter ever experienced in her life. The questions, fears, anxiety, etc., were overwhelming," it continues. Lassiter says she missed substantial time from her work, her vacation plans were disrupted and she had to give up competitive tennis.

"The strain on relationships was also palpable. Her husband was gravely concerned and questioned the doctor about numerous things. Sex was not occurring, and this lifestyle change was one of many endured due to Ms. Lassiter's medical condition," the complaint continues.

Even now, Lassiter says, "she experiences anguish about her current and future health condition, and she must have follow-up medical attention for the rest of her life! Every pain or discomfort causes thoughts about cancer returning, more surgery, other organs being cancerous, dying from cancer, etc."

Loistene Lassiter is represented by Rickey Nelson Jones of Baltimore.

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