Woman Wins $367,500 Award After Being Misdiagnosed With Cancer And Put Through Months Of Chemotherapy

gavel2We often discuss the proper damages for failure to diagnose cancer, including the calculation of the reduction in survivability (area where we disagree with our English cousins in torts). How about a misdiagnosis of cancer when the patient is cancer-free? That is the issue that faced a jury in Texas where Herlinda Garcia, 54, went through the highly traumatic process of chemotherapy only to discover that she never had cancer to begin with.

A part time civil process worker, Garcia went through seven months of chemo after being diagnoses with Stage IV terminal Breast Cancer. That diagnosis followed the removal of a benign tumor from her left breast. She says that the treatment was not just physically painful but mentally destructive as she lost her eyelashes, eyebrows, and went into a deep depression.

Her lawsuit identifies Dr. Ahmad Qadri as the alleged culprit in misreading the lab results. That led to the long treatment before doctors later reviewed the record and found the mistake. Qadri is now dead, but the jury awarded Garcia $367,500 in damages from physical pain and mental anguish.

That seems like a fair award given a process in which powerful chemicals are repeatedly injected into a person over months. The verdict could help increase the needed deterrent for such cases of malpractice.

Source: KHOU

16 thoughts on “Woman Wins $367,500 Award After Being Misdiagnosed With Cancer And Put Through Months Of Chemotherapy”

  1. Well, at least her case has a happy; however, the following case doesn’t end so well:

    Hospital apologizes after doctors operate on wrong side of brain

    St. Louis Post-Dispatch
    Posted: 05/02/2013 06:50:19 PM PDT
    Updated: 05/02/2013 06:50:19 PM PDT

    ST. LOUIS — SSM Health Care acknowledged Tuesday that its neurosurgeon and medical staff recently operated on the wrong side of a St. Louis area woman’s brain and skull.

    The admission — and a lengthy public apology — follows a St. Louis Post-Dispatch news story in Tuesday’s paper about a lawsuit filed Friday on behalf of Regina Turner of St. Ann, Mo.

    “SSM Health Care and SSM St. Clare Health Center sincerely apologize for the wrong-site surgery in our operating room,” Chris Howard, president and chief executive of SSM Health Care-St. Louis, said in a written statement.

    As a result of the mistaken surgery on April 4, Turner now needs 24-hour nursing care for her basic needs and cannot speak intelligibly, said Alvin Wolff Jr., her Clayton, Mo.-based attorney.

    According to the lawsuit filed in the Circuit Court of St. Louis in Clayton, the 53-year-old former paralegal “will also continue to suffer from emotional distress, anxiety, disfigurement and depression.”

    “This was a breakdown in our procedures, and it absolutely should not have happened,” Howard wrote in his statement. “We apologized to the patient and continue to work with the patient and family to resolve this issue with fairness and compassion. We immediately began an investigation.”

    The Creve Coeur, Mo.-based nonprofit health system operates 18 hospitals in Missouri and three other states. Its annual operating revenue is about $3.3 billion.

    SSM’s statement did not identify the neurosurgeon who operated on Turner. Her lawsuit identifies that doctor only by the initials “A.L.” Wolff, however, confirmed that the neurosurgeon who operated on his client was Dr. Armond Levy of the SSM Neurosciences Institute.

    The Post-Dispatch made several attempts Monday to reach Levy, 46, an employee of SSM Health Care, for his comment on the Turner case. Kristen Johnson, an SSM spokeswoman, said Monday night that she had spoken briefly to Levy about the newspaper’s request for comment.

    Johnson also said that a federal patient privacy law — HIPPA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 — prohibits Levy from publicly discussing the case.

    Levy, who received a medical degree from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, is based at St. Clare Health Center. He also has staff privileges at St. Mary’s Health Center and DePaul Health Center.

    “We have since taken steps to be even more vigilant to prevent such an error from happening again,” Howard wrote. “Medicine is a human endeavor, and sadly, people and systems are not perfect. When an error occurs, it is tragic for the patient, their loved ones and the medical team.

    “Our SSM St. Clare Health Center team is made up of dedicated health care professionals who are devastated,” he wrote. “We can and will do better. That is our commitment to the community.”


  2. I would think it would be routine for a doctor to get a second opinion from another doctor internally just to make sure either way, at least as an error check.

  3. I wonder if her health insurer will come looking for their money back, seven months of chemo isn’t cheap. And who will they sue?

  4. AY,

    I’ll accept that stipulation in the cultural difference between big city and small town doctors based on experience as well. I actually had a small town doctor (Natchez, MS) once tell me that she would have “destroyed the evidence (against another doctor) if [she] had known that’s what [I was] here for.” Needless to say, she wasn’t dumb enough to try it with me standing there subpoena in hand. Small town doctors are far more cliquish than than in large cities and less prone to act “against the group”. They tend to get a bit more squirrely when lawyers are thrown into the mix. That being said, I still say the general proposition about good doctors versus bad doctors stands. A truly good doctor is going to go with their truthful and best medical opinion regardless of what other doctors have said if they think it is in the patient’s best interest.

  5. There is a huge difference between small town healthcare and big city. The highest % of med malpractice cases I worked were from small town hospitals, although they’re disappearing every day. If I ever end up in a small town hospital for ER reasons, as soon as I’m stabilized, get me to the city!

  6. Gene,

    I disagree with you…. In most small towns doctors may talk about and may not associate with doctors that they perceive as bad….. They will not act until there hands are forced….. But, your experience may be different….

  7. You get that in med mal today, doglover. There are good doctors and bad doctors and good doctors have no issue throwing a bad doctor under the bus for a blatant malpractice. Who pays them is not relevant in that respect. I’ve seen doctors go both ways regardless of who pays them or if they are paid at all. A good doctor care about one thing: the best patient care possible. They don’t care about other doctors liking them or not or holding back in expressing their best medical opinion and advice.

  8. The one potential problem I see with universal single payer health care and universal medical record archiving is that a “second opinion” will be tainted by the second MD being able to look at the information assumed by the first MD. The second opinion MD will not want to risk saying there was no cancer, knowing that the first MD thought that cancer existed.

  9. Only a coward is afraid of DEATH and only an arrogant species could think when and when it should not come.STAY PREPARED and teach those you LOVE the same.  Whatever you do don’t be a coward.A message for all citizens to be adopted.

  10. raff, Who needs to be deterred? If it’s malpractice it’s the doc via their liability policy. This doc won’t be making any more misdiagnosis! The factor that makes it seem righteous to me is I am ASSUMING the plaintiff has returned to work and while psychologically scarred, physically back where she was prior to the misdiagnosis. If that is not the case, then it is too low an award.

  11. Seems way too low for me. I don’t think that amount will be a deterrent at all. A deterrent needs to hurt the insurance company and this amount is merely a bump in the road to them.

  12. With the information available it seems like a righteous award. I would think the defense, w/o the doc to testify, had made a settlement offer in 6 figures but probably not $367k. But then again, depending on the doc, maybe it was better for the defense that he was dead.

  13. IF, some doctor renders a diagnosis that you have some form of cancer then THINK for yourself and do some research. If the cancer is in some area that will spread to other parts of the body you are at a higher risk of death — even if they do all of their so called treatments. Consider riding the illness out until death. That way you will not be “fighting chest cancer” and all that rot will not go on your obit. That way you will not be in all the pain and aggravation of all of those rotten treatments.

    In the end, we all die. That is why they call it the end. Do you want to make doctors and hospitals wealthy but not healthy and wise? Then consider not jumping through the hoops. A dog in the dogpac recently lost his human pal to lung cancer. The pal went through the whole gamut of treatment. He died very bald and defeated with guide dog by his side. Yes, he had been blind in life but his blindness extended to his trust in doctors. Now, his fido is moping around in distress. It would have been better for both, had the death come sooner.

    So sayeth a barking dog.

Comments are closed.