Articles Posted in Misdiagnosis

Aaron Riedel, who was 28 at the time, went to Lodi Community Hospital emergency room complaining of back pain. He told the emergency department staff that he was taking an antibiotic to treat a MRSA infection. Riedel was later discharged from Lodi Community Hospital with a diagnosis of simple muscle strain.

The next day, he returned to the emergency room with worsening back pain. Again, Riedel informed the emergency department staff about the antibiotic he was taking and his MRSA history. The emergency room physician, Dr. Christopher Kalapodis, ordered a CT scan, which ruled out a kidney stone as the cause of the problem.

Riedel was then given a dose of morphine and an anti-inflammatory before he was again discharged. The next day however, he required additional treatment in the emergency room where he was diagnosed as having a spinal epidural abscess. Despite efforts through surgery and rehabilitation, Riedel was left a paraplegic.
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Antonio Marrero, 32, was seen at the Walanae Coast Comprehensive Center, which is a federally qualified health center. He went to the facility complaining of a sore throat.

Marrero was diagnosed with having a peritonsillar abscess, which required evaluation by an otolaryngologist. A health center physician decided to evaluate Marrero under sedation and subsequently administered the drug Etomidate. Etomidate is a short-acting intravenous drug used in general anesthesia and for sedation of patients for short procedures.

In this case when Etomidate was given, Marrero lost consciousness and died. The cause of death was determined to be oxygen deprivation resulting in anoxia.
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Gretchen Altemus, 68, struck her head in a fall. She went to the Indiana Regional Center emergency room where she underwent a CT scan. The radiologist working for Aris Teleradiology interpreted the test as being normal.

She was admitted to the hospital. Just three hours later, she became non-responsive. A second CT scan was done showing intracranial bleeding. Although she was transferred to another hospital, she died the next day of brain damage resulting from the intracranial bleeding. She is survived by her two adult children.

Altemus’s daughter, on behalf of her family and estate, sued Aris Teleradiology and the hospital claiming that they chose not to timely diagnose and treat the intracranial bleeding. Had the radiologist identified the small area of bleeding in the brain, the family alleged that she could have received lifesaving treatment and survived.
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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit has held that an expert on language issues and healthcare could not testify that several healthcare providers had breached the standard of care in their treatment of a patient who had limited use of the English language.

Dalip Basanti, who was a native of India, received treatment for back and shoulder pain from doctors at the Salud Family Health Center and the Platte Valley Medical Center. She later became paralyzed from the chest down and learned that she suffered from a benign endodermal cyst that had compressed her spinal cord.

She sued the U.S. and others alleging liability for medical negligence. Basanti sought to admit the expert testimony of Dr. Glenn Flores, a physician specializing in language issues related to healthcare, who was to testify that the defendants had breached the standard of care that caused Basanti’s injuries by choosing not to use interpretative services to communicate with her. Basanti had limited English language proficiency. The defendants moved to strike Dr. Flores’s standard of care and causation opinions. The U.S. District Court judge granted that motion.
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This appeal is from the district court’s dismissal, on statute of limitations grounds, of a medical malpractice lawsuit. The plaintiff, Johnnie Watkins, filed the action on behalf of her adult daughter, Johnnice Ford, who is a disabled person. The lawsuit alleged that Ford sought treatment at the emergency room of Ingalls Memorial Hospital in Chicago where she was treated by a doctor who was an employee of Family Christian Health Center. This facility was operated pursuant to grant money from the Public Health Services, an agency of the U.S. government. The lawsuit was brought under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), and the United States is the defendant.

In the lawsuit, it was asserted that the treating physician chose not to correctly diagnose and treat Ford who was eventually correctly diagnosed with Wernicke’s encephalopathy and who sustained neurological injuries, including permanent disability. Encephalopathy is a general term that describes a disease that damages the brain. Wernicke’s encephalopathy is a neurodegenerative disorder caused by a severe vitamin B1 deficiency. Parts of the brain may be damaged as a result of this deficiency causing increased difficulty with memory, movement, vision and coordination.

The federal district court judge dismissed the lawsuit that was filed beyond the relevant statute of limitations. Watkins appealed that dismissal order to the U.S. Court of Appeals.
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Alice Mays was 54 when she entered the emergency room at Sinai-Grace Hospital. She was complaining of nausea and vomiting over a four-day period. After the emergency department medical providers tested her, it was revealed that she had a bowel obstruction. The emergency department staff then gave her saline and later brought her to surgery. The 5-hour operation performed by the surgeon, Dr. Jill Watras, involved removal of part of her large bowel.

She showed continuously low urine output, which prompted Dr. Watras to order aggressive hydration after the surgery.

For the next two days, Mays received a total of 30,000 mL of fluids. Nonetheless, she had little or no urine output. She eventually suffered respiratory depression, abdominal compartment syndrome and organ failure. She was returned to surgery but suffered cardiac arrest and brain damage. Mays died two months later. She was a graphic artist and is survived by her siblings.
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In a case being reported with a confidentiality agreement, Doe, age 15, developed a mass on the bone of her left middle finger, for which orthopedic surgeon Dr. Ronald Hillock recommended surgery.

During the outpatient procedure, Dr. Hillock used a latex Penrose drain to place a tourniquet around Doe’s finger. While in the recovery room, a nurse noted that Doe’s finger looked discolored; however, Hillock discharged Doe.

Doe had several follow-up appointments with Dr. Hillock in the next few weeks but the finger remained discolored. Doe consulted a different doctor about 30 days after the surgery. That physician diagnosed ischemia and later performed a finger amputation.
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A  Springfield, Mo., jury signed a verdict for $28.9 million for a 24-year-old woman who sustained a devastating brain injury caused by a rare copper disorder. The lawsuit, brought in Greene County, Mo., claimed that a local hospital’s medical staff chose not to correctly diagnose and treat Emilee Williams’ symptoms. In fact, it was alleged that the hospital took the position that it did not need to do a full and complete neurological exam even though Williams presented to the hospital with symptoms. The hospital dismissed her symptoms as anxiety.

It was in December 2012 that Williams presented to the hospital. She was examined by Dr. Elene Pilapil with complaints of fatigue, tremors, balance issues, insomnia, difficulty concentrating, crying spells and anxiety. Dr. Pilapil diagnosed Williams with anxiety and did not consider ordering more diagnostic testing. A prescription for Prozac was written and Williams was sent home. Eight months later, not until August 2013, was an MRI finally ordered that showed that Williams was brain damaged, caused by the previously undiagnosed Wilson’s disease. This was done only after Emilee and her mother continued to complain to the doctor that Emilee had something much more significant happening to her than just anxiety.

As it was proved at trial, Williams had undiagnosed Wilson’s disease. This disease, although rare, causes too much copper to accumulate in the liver, brain and other vital organs, which was the cause of her devastating permanent injuries. Williams was a former high school student and athlete, but today is limited from paralysis, motor and speech impairment and must be fed through a tube in her stomach.
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Melissa Bain, in her capacity as the personal representative of the estate of her deceased husband Christopher Heath (“Heath”), appealed the grant of summary judgment in favor of Colbert County Northwest Alabama Health Care Authority d/b/a Helen Keller Hospital (“HKH”). Dr. Preston Wigfall was the emergency room physician working at the hospital on the night Heath was taken to the emergency room.

This matter began because Heath complained he had a lump in his throat that would not go away. When the pain became unbearable, he was taken to the hospital’s emergency room. In his history was the fact that his father had died of an aneurysm at the age of 47 and that he also had hypertension. He was on high blood pressure medication.

In the ER there was no evidence that the nurses on duty bothered to review his medical history with him. Dr. Wigfall, who was the emergency room physician on duty that night, did not remember if he took Heath’s medical history. Nothing was recorded in that respect.
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When Chelsea Weekley was about five months old, she suffered a skull fracture. The fracture expanded over time and a cyst was formed on her skull. At age 17, Chelsea was hit on the head and suffered a loss of consciousness, blurred vision and dizziness.

After CT and MRI scans confirmed the extent of the skull fracture and cyst, Chelsea underwent a canaloplasty surgery to repair the fracture and the area where the cyst had formed. The surgery was done at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital in St. Louis by the defendant Dr. Ann Flannery, a neurosurgeon, and by Dr. Raghuram Sampath, a neurosurgical resident.

Chelsea was discharged a day after the surgery and was found dead in her bed just three days later. An autopsy was completed, which found that Chelsea had died from a seizure brought about by the surgical damage.
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