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Man gets more than he asked for in failure-to-diagnose suit

According to the New York Department of Health, more than 100,000 people in the state are diagnosed with cancer each year. The news that a person has cancer can be devastating, affecting their current lifestyle and future mortality. Imagine how joyous a person would be if they suddenly found out their terminal cancer diagnosis was wrong.

Once the relief wears off, though, the person realizes his or her life has been turned upside down because of the doctor's failure to diagnose properly. That's exactly what happened to a man in Maine. The victim was informed he had Stage 4 pancreatic cancer, an aggressive form of the disease, and only had months to live. The man began making preparations for his family, which involved taking time off from work.

To his great relief, the man eventually found out his death sentence was a misdiagnosis. He actually has non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a treatable form of cancer. While he was relieved to get properly diagnosed, the ordeal affected him emotionally and financially. He lost quite a bit of income due to the time he took off from work.

The lawsuit asserted that the man's doctor diagnosed his condition without confirming pathology tests first. The doctor was accused of being negligent in his interpretation of the patient's CT scan.

A jury agreed that the man experienced unnecessary anguish. In fact, they awarded him more than he asked for. The victim requested $150,000 but was awarded $200,000.

Doctors perform valuable services to millions of Americans. However, negligence can result in unnecessary emotional distress or physical harm. Consulting an attorney can help victims understand their rights and hold negligent physicians accountable for errors. 

Source: Lewiston-Auburn Sun Journal, "Misdiagnosis: Greene man wins $200,000 suit," Mark LaFlamme, June 13, 2013

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