Articles Posted in Misdiagnosis

Baby Doe, 6 months, had an appointment with a physician at the Roe Family Physician office where the baby’s parents were concerned over asymmetrical folds in the baby’s right thigh and buttocks. The family practice physician misdiagnosed Baby Doe and said that all was well.

Six months later, another physician, a specialist, examined Baby Doe who had by then begun walking with a limp. The child was diagnosed as having a right hip dysplasia, which required hip surgery, including a femoral shortening.

The Doe family, on behalf of the child, sued Dr. Roe and her medical practice alleging that she chose not to diagnose a congenital hip problem. The defendants asserted that the baby’s problem was developmental, not congenital and was therefore not diagnosable at an earlier stage.
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Shamir Tillery was 11 months old when he went to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia emergency room. Shamir was suffering from fever and breathing difficulties. The hospital and emergency room staff diagnosed an upper respiratory infection or pneumonia and sent him home.

The next day, Shamir was returned to the Children’s Hospital with worsened symptoms. This included increased fever, irritability, increased pulse and respiration rates, dehydration and lethargy. The emergency room physician, Dr. Monika Goyal, ordered chest X-rays, ruled out pneumonia and upper respiratory infection and again sent Shamir home with instructions to follow up with his pediatrician.

The following day, Shamir returned to the same hospital. Over the next several hours he was examined and received a diagnosis of possible pneumonia or bacterial infection. More than 6 hours after he arrived at Children’s Hospital, he underwent a lumbar puncture that revealed bacterial meningitis. The late diagnosis and treatment was devastating. Shamir is now 6 years old. He suffers from brain damage and a profound hearing loss.
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Llulin Cruz, 31, was admitted to St. Barnabas Hospital to deliver her first child. The attending obstetrician was Dr. Michael Ihemaguba, who performed a midline episiotomy after he delivered the baby’s head. Dr. Ihemaguba then told Cruz to continue pushing. This resulted in a fourth-degree laceration, which Dr. Ihemaguba then repaired. The next day, Cruz complained of vaginal gas and Dr. Ihemaguba told her this would improve over time.

About 5 months later, Cruz became pregnant with her second child. She consulted midwife Gloria Murray for prenatal care and told her that she had fecal-smelling vaginal discharge. Murray called Dr. Ihemaguba and told him about Cruz’s symptoms. Dr. Ihemaguba instructed Murray to do nothing, but he told her to send Cruz to him after the baby was born.

After the vaginal delivery, which the midwife performed, Cruz was diagnosed as having a rectal-vaginal fistula. Cruz required 13 surgeries during the next 3 years, including an ileostomy and a “pulled down” procedure involving removal of her rectum. Cruz has lost control of her bowel function and is no longer able to engage in sexual relations. As she ages, her medical condition is expected to worsen, necessitating a permanent colostomy.

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Andrea Larkin, 25, suffered from vertigo. When tested, she was shown to have a large venous varix on the left side of her brain and an aneurysm on the right side. A varix is an enlarged vein, artery or vessel. Larkin received her medical care from Dr. Jehane Johnston. A year or so later, she stopped seeing Dr. Johnston. She became pregnant. Her prenatal care was provided by the same medical association as Dr. Johnston.

After the vaginal delivery of her child, Larkin suffered a hemorrhagic stroke. As a result, Larkin has cognitive and speech difficulties and paralysis requiring 24-hour care.

Larkin’s husband, individually and on her behalf, filed a lawsuit against Dr. Johnston and her practice, alleging that the doctor chose not to properly treat the venous varix and alert the obstetrician about Andrea’s medical history.

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In most cases of medical malpractice that occur at private institutions, the hospital, its physicians and medical providers could be held liable for injuries caused by choosing not to take an order for proper tests, by not making the correct diagnosis and by not rendering the appropriate medical treatment. But in a hospital such as Cook County Hospital (John Stroger Hospital) or any other public hospital or medical provider, the outcome could be much different. Under the Illinois Tort Immunity Act, a public institution like the John Stroger Hospital/Cook County Hospital could be responsible for injuring a patient only if it were found that it was negligent in treating the patient. However, the hospital would not be held liable if injury or death came upon a patient for the omission of not ordering tests or improperly or incorrectly diagnosing a patient.

Under the Illinois Tort Immunity Act, public entities and their employees are “immunized” from liability in the event of hospital or medical negligence for an act or omission by an employee, physician or other hospital-employed medical provider when the claim is for a misdiagnosis or in choosing not to correctly diagnose an illness or condition that causes injury to a patient.

In one stark example of how this immunization arises is the case of Michigan Avenue National Bank v. Cook County, 191 Ill.2d 493 (2000), where the Illinois Supreme Court weighed in on the case of a young woman who made a number of visits to Cook County Hospital indicating that she had a mass that had developed in her left breast. She returned to the hospital a number of times, but it was not until two years later that the lump was diagnosed as breast cancer.

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