VA to Pay Up to $3.75 Million After Removing Most of Man’s Penis

(CN) – A federal judge awarded a man $3.75 million after ruling a veterans hospital was negligent in failing to treat the man’s penis cancer that result in a partial loss of the organ.

U.S. Senior District Judge Roslyn Silver awarded the judgment after a six-day bench trial at the federal courthouse in Phoenix, Arizona, concluding the Carl T. Hayden VA Medical Center doctors’ failure to adequately treat Lawrence Cherry’s penis cancer resulted in a preventable penectomy in 2013.

“As a result of Dr. Papoff’s failure to perform a timely cystoscopy, Mr. Cherry underwent a partial penectomy and lost approximately three-fourths of his penis,” Sliver wrote in the 23-page ruling. “For Mr. Cherry, the loss of a significant portion of his penis represented a loss of his manhood and dignity.”

Cherry first visited doctors in 2009, complaining of white lesions on his legs, feet and one on the tip of his penis. They were diagnosed as warts and liquid nitrogen was used to remove them.

However, the lesion on the penis returned and in 2010, Cherry was diagnosed with a form of skin cancer and was prescribed a topical cream with a chemotherapy agent.

Cherry was not informed of surgical options at the time and the condition persisted.

The condition worsened to the point Cherry was finally referred to a VA urologist, Dr. Paul Papoff, who soon wrote that nothing unusual was wrong, and Cherry should continue his current treatment.

But Cherry said Papoff never examined him.

Not only was no physical examination ever conducted, but the doctor failed to administer a cystoscopy — a very basic examination in which a scope is passed through the urethra for inspection.

“Inexplicably, Dr. Papoff did order a CT scan of the abdomen and pelvis to evaluate Mr. Cherry for potential lymph node involvement and metastatic disease,” Silver wrote in the ruling.

Finally, after an unrelated medical condition and the steady worsening of his condition, Cherry saw another urologist in the VA system, Dr. Theordore Mobley, who performed a cystoscopy and found a tumor.

Cherry was then referred to Mayo Clinic, where doctors recommended immediate surgery to remove cancerous cells and prevent further spread. The surgery was performed in 2013.

“The penectomy, which removed the glans penis in its entirety, had a grievous physical and emotional impact on Mr. and Mrs. Cherry’s lives,” the judge wrote.

Later in 2013, a routine x-ray found a carcinogenic tumor in Cherry’s lung, but whether it was original or metastasized from the skin cancer was unable to be scientifically determined.

However, Silver did rule that a routine cystoscopy performed by Papoff would have likely prevented the surgery that resulted in the removal of most of the plaintiff’s penis and the associated negative consequences.

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