When a patient goes to see a doctor, the patient relies on the doctor. There is a certain standard of care that patients expect from medical professionals. But when a doctor or nurse is negligent in providing care, the patient could suffer serious harm as a result of a mistake.
There are a number of ways that medical malpractice can occur: surgical errors, birth injuries, hospital negligence, and prescription errors. Another error that can lead to serious patient harm is misdiagnosis. For one man, a misdiagnosis from a Pennsylvania doctor left him with permanent leg paralysis.
Back in 2003, the man went to see a doctor at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. The doctor was the medical director of the hospital's ALS Association Center. After examining the patient, the doctor told the man that he had Lou Gehrig's disease and may not live past three years.
But three years after the initial diagnosis, the man went to other doctors to get their professional opinion on his condition. It was then that he was told he suffered from spinal-cord compression; this diagnosis was correct.
Because of the misdiagnosis, the man was not aware of his actual condition. Had he been correctly diagnosed initially, he could have been able to undergo a surgery that would have corrected the spinal-cord compression. But without the proper treatment, both of his legs are now paralyzed.
He filed a lawsuit against the hospital for the mistake. On Monday of this week, the jury awarded him a multi-million dollar settlement. Settlement awards are intended to help the individual with medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Source: Philly.com, "N.J. man awarded $10 million in misdiagnosis suit," Robert Moran, 05 April 2011