In 2009, a Maine man was told that the symptoms he had reported were those of Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Since the disease is extremely aggressive, when it’s caught in late stages it often results in death. The 47-year-old was told he only had months to live, so he took time off from his job and started trying to address his legal and financial issues so his wife would be supported after his death.
A couple of months went by, and the man received a surprising phone call: he wasn’t dying. Instead of Stage 4 pancreatic cancer, he actually had non-Hodgkins lymphoma. While still a serious disease, non-Hodgkins lymphoma is much more treatable than pancreatic cancer.
While he was of course grateful for the reprieve, he says the cancer misdiagnosis took a terrible emotional and financial toll on his life. After he learned that it had apparently been the result of a careless mistake by his doctor, he decided to sue him, along with the hospital where the misdiagnosis occurred.
Now, the jury verdict is in. In what his lawyer believes may be the first time a local jury has awarded more money than the plaintiff asked for, the jury determined he was owed $200,000 for the devastating emotional distress caused by the cancer misdiagnosis and the income he lost trying to deal with the news.
“They understood how devastating this news was,” his attorney told reporters, “even for a short term.”
Specifically, the jury found that the doctor, who no longer works at that hospital, had negligently misread a CT scan, become falsely convinced the diagnosis was cancer, and then didn’t wait for the pathology report before telling the man that he “faced certain death.”
That’s just too quick off the block, his lawyer pointed out. “There are some things you have to get right the first time.”
Source: Lewiston-Auburn Sun Journal, “Misdiagnosis: Greene man wins $200,000 suit,” Mark LaFlamme, June 13, 2013