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Woman with headache sent home and ends up paralyzed

A physician’s failure to diagnose a problem may be a common event, but it often can also lead catastrophic consequences. Out in the western U.S. a jury just returned a $3.9 million verdict against a physician who sent a woman home that was suffering from severe migraine headaches and extremely high blood pressure.

What the woman was instead suffering from was bleeding of the brain that could have been identified by a CT scan. Since her condition wasn’t immediately treated, she is now paralyzed on the right side of her body.

Such a misdiagnosis could have happened in an emergency room in Kentucky and Ohio as well. Physicians often are in a hurry or attribute symptoms to the normal complaints of its many patients. Though such doctors often may be correct in their assumptions, there is no harm in making certain that such a condition is not more serious.

The physician at whom the medical malpractice case was directed seemed to comprehend the mistake he made and had urged his medical malpractice insurer to settle this case. The woman’s attorney also appeared surprised that the matter went all the way to trial. “There was not really any legitimate question about who was at fault,” the attorney stated. “It was a case that should have been settled long before trial.”

No one should underestimate the trauma that can be caused by a medical mistake or misdiagnosis. The above mentioned woman was only 34-years old and will now require care for the rest of her life. She will require assistance in just about every routine task and will be unable to participate in the many activities that the rest of us take for granted.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, “Largest Jury Verdict Awarded in Fort Collins, Colo., History,” April 19, 2012

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