Doctor diagnosed pneumonia as terminal cancer, patient injured

In 2004, a patient visited her doctor because she was feeling ill. Her diagnosis was devastating. The doctor told her that she had cancer and that her condition was terminal. Our readers in Joliet may be surprised to learn that the woman is alive nearly 10 years after the diagnosis was made. This is because the woman did not have terminal cancer when she sought medical attention from her doctor. The woman had pneumonia.

Although the woman may be glad that the doctor was wrong about her having terminal cancer, the doctor’s misdiagnosis resulted in other devastating consequences that have changed the patient’s life. The woman’s life will never be the same, but she has been able to obtain some justice for her injuries, pain and suffering. Last month, a jury awarded the woman $813,000 for her injuries and medical expenses resulting from her doctor’s mistake.

The misdiagnosis in 2004 had prevented the patient from being able to receive immediate medical treatment for pneumonia. Treatment for the woman’s medical condition was severely delayed since the doctor had diagnosed the woman with terminal cancer instead. This caused the woman to suffer complications from pneumonia, and she went into a coma. The woman’s condition became so severe that doctors had to amputate her foot.

After going through such a painful experience, the woman filed a lawsuit against her doctor. The lawsuit argued that the doctor would not have misdiagnosed the woman had the doctor performed a thorough physical exam before coming to the conclusion that the patient had terminal cancer. Had a proper physical been performed, the doctor would have realized the woman had pneumonia.

A jury agreed that the woman’s doctor was negligent when her condition was misdiagnosed. The woman’s award includes compensation for past and future medical expenses, pain and suffering, lifestyle changes as a result of the amputation, and lost wages.

Source: Insurance Journal, “Washington Woman Awarded $813,000 in Medical Suit,” April 1, 2013

Failure to Diagnose


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