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Doctors at Saint Claire’s Hospital Settle Medical Malpractice Suit for $1.28M

— January 8, 2020

Two doctors at St. Claire’s Hospital recently agreed to settle a medical malpractice lawsuit for $1.28 million.

The family of Dina Wyckoff recently agreed to a $1.28 million settlement to end the medical malpractice lawsuit it filed against Saint Claire’s Hospital in Denville and two of its doctors. The suit was filed over allegations that doctors at the hospital failed to detect Wyckoff’s terminal cancer. Eventually, she was diagnosed with stage IV cancer and passed away on August 29, 2016.

Doctor performing surgery; image by Jafar Ahmed, via
Doctor performing surgery; image by Jafar Ahmed, via

The suit itself was filed by Wyckoff’s husband, Robert Wyckoff back in March 2017 in the Sussex County Superior Court Law Division and claimed Wyckoff “underwent surgery in 2013 to treat a stomach ulcer and following the surgery was told by doctors tissue samples from a biopsy came back benign.” However, later on, she was given the stage IV cancer diagnosis. Two doctors, Dr. Seraphim Rimarenko, a pathologist and Dr. Vincent J. Emiliani, a gastroenterologist are named as defendants in addition to the hospital.

What happened, though? How did the hospital fail to detect the cancer? For starters, the lawsuit claimed that “Wyckoff initially went to the emergency room at St. Clare’s Hospital in Denville in 2013 with severe abdominal pain.” Once there, she was diagnosed with a stomach ulcer and underwent endoscopy and surgery on December 9, 2013. During the procedure, a biopsy was taken and sent to Dr. Emiliani. However, the lawsuit alleged “an insufficient number of tissue samples was taken during the endoscopy that was interpreted as benign, meaning they did not have cancerous cells.” Additionally, the suit claimed the biopsy was “taken from the incorrect location and questioned a second endoscopy was not taken when the ulcer was not healing.” It stated:

The defendants inaccurately interpreted important tests and studies and failed to timely treat, diagnose and determine the true nature of Wyckoff’s problem. As a result, Wyckoff suffered painful injuries and then death in 2016.”

During the litigation process, a plaintiff expert also noted that, had the cancer been properly detected during Wyckoff’s surgery in 2013, it would have “resulted in a five-year survival rate of 50% to 68%.”

At the time, both Emiliani and Rimarenko denied the allegations against them and argued the “cancer had already metastasized by the time Wyckoff had her surgery in 2013, meaning that any delay didn’t affect her life expectancy.” Despite denying the allegations, both doctors agreed to pay the settlement. Of the $1.28 million, Emiliani will pay $275,000 and Rimarenko will pay $1 million.

Since her death, the Franklin Borough Council “unanimously adopted an ordinance to change the name of Independence Lane, located in the Franklin Meadows Townhouses development, into Dina’s Way.


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