NJ dentist sued after patient dies of oral cancer

A New Jersey dentist has been sued by the estate of a Somerville firefighter who died last year of oral cancer at the age of 33, according to a story on mycentraljersey.com.

The lawsuit accuses Francis Barbieri Jr., DDS, of failing to inform his patient Steven Runyon of a lesion on his tongue and not referring him for biopsy soon enough.

Runyon died of metastatic tongue cancer in August 2010. The lawsuit alleges that Dr. Barbieri first noticed a "raised area" on Runyon's tongue in December 2008 but failed to advise him to look into it further at that time.

Runyon returned to Dr. Barbieri for another appointment in June 2009, and the dentist allegedly noted visible changes to Runyon's tongue. Runyon subsequently went back to Dr. Barbieri for follow-up sessions three times that summer, but it wasn't until the final visit, in August, that Runyon was finally referred to an oral surgeon for an evaluation and biopsy, according to the allegations.

The lawsuit demands unspecified costs and damages, alleging that Barbieri's care of Runyon deviated from generally accepted medical standards and otherwise was negligent and careless.

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