Widow sues lab, pathologist after husband dies of cancer

This article is more than 12 months old

The widow of an information technology specialist who died from skin cancer in 2013 is seeking damages of at least $10.4 million from a medical laboratory and a pathologist.

Housewife Carol Ann Armstrong, 52, alleged Quest Laboratories and its medical director, Dr Tan Hong Wui, were negligent for failing to detect a malignant cancer in a skin sample taken from her husband Peter Traynor in 2009.

A hearing into the medical negligence suit started in the High Court yesterday.

Mr Traynor was a Singapore-based executive IT specialist manager with IBM who earned about half a million dollars a year.

In 2009, he developed a skin lesion on his back that became ulcerous. He saw a general practitioner, who removed a piece of his skin and sent it to the lab for a pathology report.

The report issued by the lab stated there was "no malignancy".

In January 2012, Mr Traynor sought medical attention for a swelling under his armpit and underwent tests, which showed cancer spreading to other parts of the body.

His oncologist recalled the 2009 specimen, and another pathologist concluded there was malignant cancer.

Mr Traynor was treated for cancer but died in December 2013 at the age of 49.

Ms Armstrong is seeking about $3.3 million in dependency claims and about $5 million for loss of inheritance, which is the wealth her husband would have accumulated had he not died. She contended that the missed diagnosis deprived her husband of medical treatment for two years.

The lab, represented by Mr Lek Siang Pheng, argued that Dr Tan had conducted a proper examination of the specimen and arrived at a reasonable finding. The lab argued that even if the cancer was diagnosed in 2009, the treatment he would have received would likely not have made a difference to his survival.