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Ammar Sakkour v UC Regents

Dr. Fagel achieved a settlement of 1.5 million on behalf of a 45 year old man that currently suffers from Stage IV Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma cancer after a UCLA hospital physician failed to inform the plaintiff of his condition in a timely manner. In September of 2004, Dr. Ammar Sakkour, a board certified physician in internal medicine with subspecialty certifications in critical care, pulmonary diseases and sleep medicine, had a head and neck MRI while a patient at a UCLA medical center. A UCLA neuroradiologist negligently failed to identify or report a left soft palate mass readily visible in the scan. Over the next 4 years, the tumor went undiagnosed and untreated.

During the summer of 2004, Dr. Sakkour experienced deep, left sided face and neck pain and was ordered by his primary care physician to have an MRI. Although no soft tissue mass was reported, the neurologist missed a mass measuring 1.1cm x 1.0cm x .9 cm on the left posterior soft plate, plainly visible on the axial and coronal sequences. When the MRI was originally taken it is clear that the mass could have been completely resected and Dr. Sakkour would have had better than a 50% chance of a cure and long term survival.

Four years later, after experiencing pain and discomfort, Dr. Sakkour underwent a whole body FDG-PET CT. The results showed several lung and osseous lesions. Additional stains for neuroendocrine tumors were conducted as well as for adenoid cystic carcinoma. After performing the stains, the diagnosis was mestastic poorly differentiated carcinoma of pulmonary origin, favor salivary gland differentiation. The cancer had characteristics of cancer of the head or neck yet there was no known site of origin. It was at this point that Dr. Kirsch reviewed the 2004 MRI and discovered the cancerous mass.

Dr. Kirsch ordered a follow-up brain and neck MRI and discovered that the mass had grown to 2.5cm x 1.9cm x1.5 cm and had extended to the hard palate and abutted the left inferior turbinate with destruction of bony margins within the 4 years. During this period, the tumor metastasized to Dr. Sakkour's lungs, vertebrae, brain, adrenal glands and humerus. Although UCLA defense maintains that the soft palate mass is an artifact and the origin of the cancer is the lung, testimony of UCLA's own physicians and documentation proves this to be false. Dr. Sakkour's radiation oncologist, Dr. Steve Lee declared that the primary source of the cancer was most likely the head and neck area, specifically the missed soft palate.

From April 2009 to June 2009 Dr. Sakkour's brain has been radiated during 33 sessions. Along with the whole brain radiation, he has received radiosurgery to vertebral metases, radiation therapy to the palate and chemotherapy. He experiences chronic and constant pain and his lung and adrenal metastases has grown back. Dr. Sakkour's life expectancy is no more than a few months. Additionally, after a decade of working roughly 80-100 hours a week, Dr. Sakkour can no longer work.