In May 2011, a 47 year old man entered an emergency room complaining of abdominal pain. He disclosed in his medical history that he had suffered from Crohn’s disease but had been asymptomatic for more than a decade. The attending physicians chose to focus exclusively on the Crohn’s and ignored any other symptoms.
As a result of the misdiagnosis, Gary B. Stern’s condition deteriorated. In fact, he was suffering from a perforated ulcer. The perforated ulcer led to more than a dozen surgeries and nearly three years of hospitalizations, leaving Stern with short-bowel syndrome and unable to work or care for himself.
A Baltimore jury found that his treating physicians had deviated from the standard of care and awarded him$14 million in future medical and life care expenses, $8 million in noneconomic damage, $5 million in damages to Stern’s marital relationship and more than $1 million in past medical expenses. The $13 million portion of nonmedical damages will be reduced to $695,000 under a state cap.
Stern is confined to a wheelchair and is fed through a central line. He is unable to care for himself.
This is what can happen when medical staff misdiagnoses a medical condition.