Fort Drum Soldier Awarded $13.5M For Infarction Misdiagnosis
A Fort Drum soldier was awarded $13.5 million after his doctors misdiagnosed an infarction (a stroke in the extremities) as tendonitis. As a result of the misdiagnosis, the soldier lost his leg. This is literally the same thing that happened to Dr. Gregory House on the hit TV show House. An infarction misdiagnosis caused the blockage of blood to his leg resulting in significant muscle death. Instead of having his leg amputated, House demands to keep his leg resulting in significant pain for which he requires an absurd amount of Vicodin. Nonetheless, he’s good at his job.
The same may not be said of those who misdiagnosed the soldier’s pain as tendonitis. As a result, the infarction caused significant muscle death requiring the patient to have his leg removed above the knee. The patient had to retire from the Army and now can only get around with the aid of a wheelchair. The $13.5 million award will help the soldier offset the loss of income (which the VA will not help him with since his injury is not service-related) and allow him to get better medical interventions than a wheelchair. $10 million was awarded for decreased quality of life and pain and suffering damages.
Litigation approaches to misdiagnosis lawsuits
The attorneys for the plaintiff did a remarkable job securing a $13.5M settlement for their client. The size of the settlement is how they earn their money. In this case, the lawyers secured a settlement that was above the average for leg amputation lawsuits not involving gross negligence claims. While misdiagnosis lawsuits of this type are not the hardest to prove, the attorneys were able to get the plaintiff $10M in compensation for noneconomic or pain and suffering damages. Only $3.5 million was for compensatory damages related to the loss of his job and past and future medical expenses.
Essentially, misdiagnosis lawsuits boil down to whether or not the doctor correctly establishes the diagnosis. Easy right? Not really. In this case, the doctor was negligent not for being wrong but for interpreting the known data without checking. Tendonitis isn’t a bad diagnosis for extremity pain but given the patient’s history and failure to order any tests relating to the leg itself (which would have revealed the infarction) the doctor just never bothered to check.
This is frustrating because doctors do not operate on interpretation. Sure, doctors interpret lab results or imaging scans, but they play the percentages and then try different approaches until one appears to work (just like House). The failure to test the diagnosis was where the medical malpractice was committed. The choice to allow the soldier to leave with an untested diagnosis is a serious procedural flaw in the doctor’s approach to the soldier’s health care.
Talk to an Atlanta, GA Medical Malpractice Attorney
The Moses Firm represents patients injured during medical procedures or by negligent doctors or hospitals. Call our Atlanta medical malpractice lawyers today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about our services.