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A Question of Negligence


By Nancy F. Bauer

Two-and-a-half years ago, Gena Glicklich, a 39-year-old student at the School of Education, noticed a small lump in one of her breasts. A year later, the lump had grown to the size of a melon, and Glicklich had a biopsy performed. Nine months from now, Glicklich may die.

Glicklich contends that three of the doctors who treated her--Dr. Alan R. Spivack, an assistant University Health Services (UHS) surgeon: Dr. Jennifer Jones of UHS; and Dr. Joan Golub, a local private physician--misdiagnosed her cancerous tumor, and she is suing them for negligence.

Testimony for Glicklich vs. Spievack began this week, and the defense attorneys said they expect it could continue for the next three to five weeks. If Glicklich wins her case, the court may award her $370,000--the amount she might have made had her cancer been arrested.

While the doctors insist that an earlier diagnosis of Glicklich's cancer, which they at first believed to be a series of benign cysts, would not have made any difference in Glicklich's case, the prosecution is attempting to prove that late diagnosis allowed the cancer to spread to her brain and may prevent her from raising her nine-year-old son.

On Wednesday, the opening day of testimony, the defense told the jury that Glicklich should have undertaken more responsibility for her own treatment, including insisting on an early biopsy.

Glicklich's husband, Steven J. Weiner, took the stand on Thursday and testified that his wife's mental condition markedly deteriorated in the period she saw the three doctors.

But on Friday, an expert witness for the defense stressed that Glicklich's cancer "was in the same stage" before and after she began seeing the UHS doctors.

UHS has not suspended Spievack or Jones, Sholem Postel, deputy director of UHS, said this week, declining comment on whether UHS holds any legal responsibility in the case.

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