Valuation of Misdiagnosis Malpractice Cases in Illinois

Putting aside actually fighting injuries and diseases, one of the leading problems in the healthcare industry today is misdiagnosis. The explanations for these mistakes vary with the circumstances but often revolve around complicated health conditions or irregular symptoms. Of course, misdiagnoses waste time and reduce the patient’s ability to ward off the real health threat. Illnesses and issues most commonly misdiagnosed include tumors, clots, and infections. Here is how some plaintiffs fared in Illinois medical negligence cases involving misdiagnosis:

CASE: ROBERTS VS. AMG OF ILLINOIS
JURISDICTION: COOK COUNTY
RECOVERY: $2,250,000 SETTLEMENT

Here the plaintiff went to the doctor because he was experiencing chest pain. He informed the doctor that his family had a history of heart attacks and heart disease. Despite this knowledge, and despite the fact that his symptoms signaled coronary heart disease, the doctor diagnosed him with a gastric condition and sent him home. 

The very next day the plaintiff had a heart attack and died. His estate sued the doctor for medical malpractice and claimed that his negligent care fell below the practical standard of care for the circumstances. The defendant doctor did not refute that he was at fault but denied the amount of damages that the plaintiff claimed. They agreed on $2,250,000 as an appropriate figure before trial commenced.

CASE: CHRISTY VS. CAVANAUGH
JURISDICTION: COOK COUNTY
RECOVERY: $2,500,000 JURY AWARD

This case involved a patient and a psychiatrist. In 1990 the former began to see the latter for various symptoms. The psychiatrist diagnosed him with depression and began a course of treatment to alleviate that condition. In 1997, the patient died of Huntington’s chorea, a hereditary condition affecting the nerve cells of the body. Representatives for the decedent sued the doctor for malpractice. 

Their complaint stated that he should have done a more thorough medical history and identified the extent of his true condition. Because he did not, they contended that it went untreated for seven years and led to his death. The defendant psychiatrist denied all responsibility. The matter proceeded to court where the jury found the doctor completely liable for the man’s death and awarded the family $2,500,000 for their loss.

CASE: KING VS. ADVOCATE HEALTH CARE
JURISDICTION: COOK COUNTY
RECOVERY: $950,000

After feeling pain in her breast, the plaintiff here was referred from her primary doctor to a surgeon and oncologist. Upon examination, they found a mass. They did a test to determine if it was malignant and they decided that it was. Without obtaining confirmation, consulting other experts, or listening to the plaintiff when she said the mass was reducing, they decided on a course of surgery to remove it. 

Later it was independently verified that the mass was not cancerous. The woman sued the doctors and their employers for medical malpractice. Her suit claimed that by misdiagnosing the mass and unnecessarily removing her breast, they were negligent. All defendants denied liability and the case proceeded to trial where the jury awarded the woman $950,000 in damages. Here is the award breakdown:

  • Pain and suffering:
  • Loss of normal life:
  • Disfigurement:
  • Punitive:
  • Loss of Services:
  • Total:
  • $500,000
  • $400,000
  • $50,000
  • $950,000

CASE: DOE VS. OKAFOR
JURISDICTION: COOK COUNTY
RECOVERY: $1,000,000 SETTLEMENT

In this unfortunate incident, a patient presented to a doctor for various symptoms including diarrhea, cramping, and general abdominal pain. Instead of recognizing that he had colon cancer, the physician diagnosed him as having an ulcer. This misdiagnosis allowed his cancer to metastasis

The plaintiff sued for this development and complained through his lawsuit that he should have been referred to a gastroenterologist to avoid this. The patent nature of the doctor’s mistake avoided the need for trial and he sought to settle instead of going to court. The plaintiff received $1,000,000 for his injuries.

CASE: STRZALKA VS. PARA
JURISDICTION: COOK COUNTY
RECOVERY: $6,500,000 SETTLEMENT

The patient in this case went to the doctors when he was experiencing headaches, dizziness, and an inability to properly speak. Doctors attributed his symptoms solely to ischemia and prescribed treatment to abate the issue. Unfortunately, they missed the fact that he actually herpes simplex encephalitis. 

The lapse in judgment proved serious. He suffered significant brain damage, motor function loss, and other injuries. He sued his providers for malpractice because of this misdiagnosis. The hospital objected on the grounds that the doctors were independent agents and, as such, it should not be liable for their mistakes. This defense was not successful. The plaintiff was able to reach a settlement whereby the doctors paid $4,500,000 and the hospital paid $2,000,000.

CASE: VLAHOS VS. BRIDGEPORT FAMILY MEDICAL CENTER JURISDICTION: COOK COUNTY

RECOVERY: $1,065,371 

A patient went to see a doctor when he experiencing throat pain and having a hard time swallowing. The doctor told him he merely had a sore throat and sent him home. Five years later the man died of laryngeal (throat) cancer. The decedent’s estate sued the doctor for failure to diagnose and treat the cancer they argued existed at the time of his consultation. 

The doctor denied that it was present during his examination so the case went to trial. The jury determined that in fact it was present and the doctor missed it. They awarded the man’s next of kin $1,065,371.

CASE: JANECEK VS. UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO HOSPITAL
JURISDICTION: COOK COUNTY
RECOVERY: $3,000,000 AWARD

Here, a woman in her fifties went to the University of Chicago Hospital for a routine colonoscopy when the doctors informed her that she had cancer and needed surgery immediately. The procedure went forward and she sustained scarring, distress, and a bowel injury. As it turned out, she did not have cancer at all. 

Therefore, all of her injuries were unnecessary. She sued the doctor and the hospital for medical malpractice. They both quickly denied these allegations but a jury gave them no sympathy. They awarded her $3,000,000 after trial.

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