Trusting the results the clinic communicated about the test were accurate, the man spent the next four years believing he had the virus when he in fact, did not. The misdiagnosis reportedly caused the man to suffer from depression which resulted in him quitting his job, abusing drugs and alcohol and spending time in psychiatric wards after expressing thoughts of suicide. He also moved into a property where other HIV-positive individuals lived.
During this time the clinic monitored his condition but did not provide treatment. His negative status was uncovered when he sought treatment at a different clinic and a routine blood test was done. A follow-up test at a different facility confirmed the man's status. He then commenced the lawsuit under the theory of medical negligence.
The case took such a long time to reach a settlement in part because of various related legal issues that needed to be determined. As a result of those issues it was determined that financial damages can be sought via a civil lawsuit for negligent emotional distress when doctors provide the wrong information to their patients regarding life-threatening diseases and illnesses.
The settlement, the details of which have not been made available, was reached just a week shy of the start date of the trial. An attorney for the plaintiff in the case indicated the resolution was an amicable one.
Source: The Washington Post, "Suit over wrong HIV diagnosis settled between ex-patient, Whitman-Walker," Keith L. Alexander, Aug. 10, 2012
Our firm handles similar situations to the one discussed in this post. If you would like to learn more about our practice, please visit our Pennsylvania misdiagnosis of infection page.