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Misdiagnosis Leads to Foot Amputation, Jury Awards Victim $813,000

Missouri residents expect a certain standard of care from doctors and health professionals. Whether they are receiving treatment for a severe injury or something as simple as the common cold, patients expect that their ailment will be correctly diagnosed and they will receive the correct treatment in the end.

But a recent story out of Washington reminds us that this isn’t always the case, and that despite our best efforts, we can’t always protect ourselves from someone else’s negligence. It’s a story that began in 2004; and despite a mistrial and years of waiting, one doctor’s failure to diagnose cancer ended in a court victory for the patient.

In March 2004, when the female patient went to see the physician, he originally diagnosed her with terminal cancer. In reality, she was suffering from pneumonia. But because of the misdiagnosis, she never received treatment and eventually lapsed into a coma which later resulted in the amputation of her left foot.

But this wasn’t the first time the doctor had been accused of erroneous diagnoses. According to state regulators, the doctor had been cited several times by a disciplinary board for misdiagnoses and for providing methadone to patients with drug addictions. With this information in hand, the woman decided to take her medical malpractice case to court.

Her case went to trial in 2008; but because of several racist comments made by several jurors during deliberation, the judge ordered a mistrial. It wasn’t until late this March that the Washington woman was awarded $813,000 in the lawsuit against the physician.

“There is no question that justice was delayed, but it wasn’t denied in the end,” explained the woman’s lawyer.

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