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Rare disease wreaks havoc when not diagnosed

Jun 28, 2017 | Failure to Diagnose

New York residents might like to know about the process involved when believing a doctor or hospital acted negligently. In one case, a $28.5 million judgment was awarded to a patient after a failure to diagnose her condition. The patient and her family filed a lawsuit against Mercy Clinic Springfield Communities because they said they begged specialists to perform diagnostic tests when she had severe symptoms of Wilson’s Disease.

A jury agreed that a timely diagnosis and treatment would have likely resulted in no more than minor complications if the clinic was proactive. Due to the delayed diagnosis, the woman suffered catastrophic complications. The rare genetic disorder the woman suffers from, Wilson’s disease, causes copper to reach unsafe levels in the body. Excessive copper levels are most dangerous for the brain and liver and can cause neurological disorders and brain damage.

Specialists attributed the patient’s illness to anxiety and depression, but her family wanted neurological testing done. After five months, the woman experienced muscle spasms, speech impairment, dystonia and other damage. She now receives meals through a feeding tube and cannot walk anymore. While the multi-million-dollar verdict is a large amount, at least $21 million of the $28.9 million damages are expected to cover the cost of future medical expenses. The paralysis the patient suffers from requires full-time supervision.

As this story shows, a failure to diagnose a condition can have devastating, permanent effects on a patient. People who have been harmed in this manner might want to meet with a medical malpractice attorney to see if the failure constituted negligence on the part of the health care practitioner or facility.