Dentist Must Pay $11M For Delayed Cancer Diagnosis

On February 22, a jury in Pennsylvania ruled that Dr. Linda Shen, who has three practices in Northeastern Pennsylvania, must pay $11 million, including $8 million in punitive damages, to patient Mary Heffelfinger…, Dentist must pay $11M for delayed diagnosis, Melissa Busch, Feb 2024


Over a period of about seven months, Heffelfinger alleged she saw Shen eight times to discuss a sore on her tongue. However, the patient claimed that Shen never referred her for a biopsy. Furthermore, Heffelfinger claimed that Shen’s inaction led her lesion to develop into stage IV squamous cell carcinoma, requiring her to undergo chemotherapy and have part of her tongue removed.


After Heffelfinger received her tongue cancer diagnosis, she allegedly requested her dental records from Shen. The dentist reportedly stated that she would only release her dental records if Heffelfinger signed a liability waiver. Then the patient alleged that Shen intentionally withheld or destroyed the records when Heffelfinger refused to sign the waiver, according to the story.


Heffelfinger claimed that Shen withheld the records because she knew she was responsible for delaying her diagnosis. However, Shen purportedly attempted to provide Heffelfinger with her records but couldn’t find them. Shen accused Heffelfinger’s sister, an employee at her dental practice, of having stolen the records, according to the story.


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