Serious physician misdiagnosis results in woman’s foot amputation


Most doctors are pretty thorough when it comes to examining and diagnosing their patients. These medical professionals know that anything short of a thorough examination could cause them to miss an important symptom and potentially put their patients at risk.

Unfortunately, there are some doctors who have very little regard for patient safety, which causes them to take a recklessly lax approach to examination and diagnosis. Unsurprisingly, this eventually leads to misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis of serious and life-threatening conditions.

While it didn’t occur here in New York, a recent medical malpractice verdict highlights the dangers that these negligent doctors pose. In 2004, a Washington State woman visited a local physician. She was suffering from pneumonia, but this was not the diagnosis she received. After a very incomplete physical, the doctor somehow diagnosed the woman with terminal cancer.

Thankfully, she did not actually have this fatal disease. However, because the doctor failed to diagnose and treat her pneumonia, her illness caused her to lapse into a coma. Eventually, this led to the amputation of her left foot.

After hearing this evidence, the jury ruled in favor of the plaintiff and she was recently awarded $813,000 in damages.

This was not the doctor’s only serious case of delayed or misdiagnosis. In 2007, he was fined twice by the state for diagnostic errors. The first involved a failure to diagnose a patient with rectal cancer over a period of six years. The second involved a failure to recognize and treat one patient’s cardiac symptoms. The patient later suffered a heart attack.

Thankfully, negligent physicians like this one are the exception and not the rule. Nonetheless, the harm they cause to patients cannot be understated. That’s why anyone who has suffered harm as a result of physician error or negligence should speak with an experienced medical malpractice attorney.

Source: The Spokesman-Review, “Suit against doctor yields $813,000,” Thomas Clouse, Mar. 29, 2013

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