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Failure to diagnose leads to $5M settlement

When someone in Pittsburgh seeks the expertise of a medical professional there is an expectation that the physician who is consulted will do what is necessary to ensure a proper diagnosis is made. As the family of a 17-year-old girl knows all too well, the outcome of a failure to diagnose can be devastating. Several years ago the girl lost the use of her hands arms and legs when tuberculosis caused one of the vertebras in her back to rupture.

The girl's parents were aware of the fact that at some point she had been exposed to the disease. A TB skin test that she had to undergo to attend school indicated this. Accordingly they took her to see a doctor. Despite the positive test result, she did not undergo scans to determine if the disease was in her spine (known as Pott's disease) or provided antibiotics. Over the course of several months the girl complained of a pain in her neck and a loss of weight. These symptoms were attributed to the heavy backpack she used at school. It was not until her vertebra ruptured that the TB was found in her spine and Pott's disease was diagnosed.

As a result of the incident the teen requires regular medical attention and assistance from a nurse. To live a life reminiscent of normal, she is also in need of special equipment which is expensive. In part to help cover those expenses the girl's parents filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against several healthcare providers and healthcare centers. The lawsuit alleged that all failed to diagnose the girl's condition.

Recently, that lawsuit was settled. As a part of that settlement the girl and her family will receive $5 million.

While this case took place in another state, delayed diagnoses occur throughout the nation all too regularly. Those who find themselves in this position should know that they may have legal options.

Source: The Modesto Bee, "Family relieved to receive $5M settlement in girl's TB disability case," Ken Carlson, July 9, 2013

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