St. Petersburg Times Online: Business

Weather | Sports | Forums | Comics | Classifieds | Calendar | Movies

Death after cancer surgery brings lawsuit

A WFLA-TV photographer's widow claims Moffitt's doctors overlooked a heart attack.

By Times staff writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 10, 2000

TAMPA -- The widow of a WFLA-TV photographer filed suit Tuesday against H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute, claiming negligence led to the death of her husband after surgery in 1998.

Bruce Breslow died four days after surgery for cancer of the tonsils. The lawsuit charges that doctors failed to properly monitor Breslow, 47, following surgery, and failed to detect a heart attack he apparently suffered after his operation.

The lawsuit was filed by Breslow's 43-year-old widow, Brenda Breslow, as representative of his estate. Two teenage children also survive.

"We never had clear answers about what happened," Brenda Breslow said Tuesday. "We were told something had happened very suddenly . . . It's been a horrible loss."

The lawsuit recounts Breslow's complaints of chest pain and difficulty breathing in the days after his surgery. It alleges that the treating physicians failed to properly monitor and treat Breslow's symptoms. It also accuses the Moffitt staff of losing or destroying vital records of Breslow's case.

At the time of Breslow's death, his wife had just gone home to sleep. With Breslow when he died was state Rep. Rob Wallace, R-Tampa, a cousin of Breslow's by marriage.

A spokesman for Moffitt said the hospital was sorry for the Breslows' loss, but declined to comment on the lawsuit.

"We express our deepest sympathy," said Dr. W. Michael Alberts, associate center director for clinical affairs at Moffitt. "A patient's death is always a cause for great sadness."

The suit, filed in Hillsborough Circuit Court, also names the Florida Board of Regents, Moffitt's corporate parent, as a defendant. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for the family's loss, and funeral expenses.

© Copyright, St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.