Medical malpractice lawsuits in Arizona and around the country are sometimes filed after people have been harmed due to a missed or delayed diagnosis. Patients can suffer catastrophic consequences when doctors fail to identify potentially serious or even fatal conditions, and this can result in significant awards and settlements. One such case involves a Missouri woman who in May 2017 was awarded $28.9 million in damages after convincing a jury that her doctors had ignored her pleas to perform more tests.
The jury heard how the woman was left permanently disabled because of a rare condition called Wilson's disease that causes large amounts of copper to build up in the body. Reports indicate that the woman is unable to walk unassisted and relies on a feeding tube to provide her with nourishment. She claimed in her lawsuit that the disease, which can be deadly when allowed to worsen, could have been treated more effectively if her doctors had listened when she repeatedly asked them to perform neurological tests.
The woman's doctors told her she was suffering from depression and anxiety when she complained of tremors, fatigue and panic attacks, and she says that they refused to order more tests when her symptoms got worse instead of better. The tests were ordered five months after her original diagnosis when her condition had deteriorated so badly that she was unable to move her arms or her legs.
Attorneys familiar with medical malpractice cases would likely be saddened but not surprised by accounts such as this one. While it may be unrealistic to expect doctors to be perfect, it is not unreasonable to believe that they should consult a specialist or order more testing when patients deteriorate and the treatments prescribed do not appear to be working. Cases involving doctor errors can be difficult to litigate because physicians are generally reluctant to point fingers at one another, but attorneys with experience in this area could work around this problem by consulting with specialists and experts to study health care records and identify where mistakes may have been made.