Woman Misdiagnosed with AIDS Wins $2.5 Million Verdict Against Doctor

In Boston, a jury awarded $2.5 million in damages Wednesday to Audrey Serrano, who received HIV treatments for almost nine years before discovering she never actually had the virus that causes AIDS. It is only the latest in misdiagnosis cases.

Serrano sued Dr. Kwan Lai, who treated her at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in Worcester. Lai failed to order tests to confirm the diagnosis and insisted at trial that she relied on Serrano’s account and past determinations.

Lai testified last week that Serrano told her she had worked as a prostitute, her partner had AIDS, and that she had suffered three bouts of a type of pneumonia typically associated with those infected by the virus. Serrano has denied she had ever been a prostitute. She confirmed that her former boyfriend tested positive for but disputed the claim that she told the doctor that she had suffered bouts of Pneumocystis pneumonia.

Lai testified that she had no reason to question Serrano’s original diagnosis at another clinic because Serrano convinced her she had HIV when she took her personal history, and her blood had abnormal amounts of cells used to fight infections.

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These cases are more common than people would think. Only recently, a case was filed in New York involving a lab foul-up where Darrie Eason agreed to an unnecessary double mastectomy. For that case, click here