Unexplained Ear Pain in an Adult Requires Prompt Evalaution

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Ear pain (otalgia) is commonly reported by children who tend to suffer frequent ear infections, but it is less common and a potentially more serious symptom for adults.  Adults who suffer ear pain should promptly see their primary care doctor who will take a history and perform an examination to see if there are any obvious problems in the external or middle ear, such as infection.  If there are no obvious problems in the ear itself, and if the pain fails to respond to usual therapies, the primary care doctor should send the patient to a specialist for a comprehensive head and neck examination to determine whether the patient is suffering "referred" ear pain -- meaning that is originating elsewhere in the head or neck.  Possible causes of referred ear pain include TMJ dysfuction, sinusitis, dental impactions or infections and, most seriously, cancers of the the head and neck.  The medical literature strongly indicates that cancer must be ruled out in any adult patient with unexplained hear pain, especially patients who drink or smoke, which signficantly increases their risk for throat and mouth cancers. 

Dever and Feldstein, LLC previously represented the surviving husband and teenage daughter of a 32 year-old woman who died tragically as a result of a significant delay in the diagnosis of her throat cancer.  In the year prior to her cancer diagnosis, our client had visited her primary care doctor on several occasions complaining of severe ear pain, but the doctor repeatedly declined to refer her to a specialist and instead kept prescribing her anitbiotics even though she had no symptoms of infection.  By the time the cancer was finally diagnosed by another doctor, it had already spread to the lymph nodes, and our client was compelled to undergo extensive surgery and months of chemotherapy and radiation before she ultimately succumbed to the cancer.  We sent our client's medical records to leading medical experts in the fields of internal medicine and head and neck oncology who advised us that the primary care doctor had committed medical malpractice by failing to refer our client to a specialist to determine the cause of her ongoing ear pain.  Our experts further advised us that our client's cancer could have been successfully treated if she had received a timely diagnosis of her condition.  Based upon the findings of the medical experts, our firm filed suit and aggressively litigated the case for more than a year before ultimately obtaining a large confidential settlement for our clients.

If you or someone you know has experienced a significant delay in the diagnosis of a cancer or other serious medical condition, please contact the lawyers at 1-(888) 825-9119 for a confidential, no-charge consultation.      

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This page contains a single entry by Joe Dever published on July 16, 2009 9:42 AM.

TIA (transient ischemic attack) - warning sign for a major stroke was the previous entry in this blog.

Compartment Syndrome: A Medical Emergency is the next entry in this blog.

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