A misdiagnosis is generally viewed by Oregonians as the failure of a physician or other medical professional to identify a disease. However, a misdiagnosis can also result in a patient being diagnosed and treated for a disease that they never actually had. These types of medical mistakes can be just as harmful, as victims may undergo extensive treatment that is completely unnecessary.
This was the experience of one victim with misdiagnosed Stage 4 breast cancer who ended up outliving her oncologist. She went to the oncologist in 2009 about a lump in her breast. There are certain standard procedures in place for newly diagnosed breast cancer patients. These include mammograms, biopsies and surgical removal of a lump with detailed pathology reports. Despite the pathology results finding the lump to be non-cancerous, she was diagnosed with having terminal breast cancer and underwent eight rounds of chemotherapy.
The woman accepted the diagnosis and treatment plan, and endured the chemotherapy and all the difficult side effects. After chemotherapy, she continued to suffer from anxiety and depression associated with receiving a terminal diagnosis. She consulted another doctor about these problems who reviewed all her original medical records. It was this doctor that discovered the misdiagnosed cancer and treatment. An investigation later found the oncologist misread the pathology report.
The oncologist since passed away from a heart attack and his victim filed a lawsuit over the misdiagnosis. She was awarded $367,500 from his estate as compensation for the unfathomable mistake. Despite the patient's anger over the misdiagnosis and unnecessary treatment, she was relieved to learn that she does not have terminal cancer. The damage award will help the victim move forward with her life following the monumental mistake.
Source: About.com, "Herlinda Garcia survived Stage 4 breast cancer misdiagnosis," Pam Stephan, July 24, 2013