Sometimes it is the things that doctors don’t do that wind up being more harmful than the things that they do. An example of this can be found in the man whose doctors for years failed to test him for HIV despite known risk factors. When he was finally tested, the test came back positive.
There was much worse news, however: it had already progressed to AIDS, which was causing brain damage. The damage brought an end to the 48-year-old man’s career as an attorney. News media reported recently that a federal jury has awarded him $18.4 million in his medical malpractice lawsuit.
After an eight-day trial, the jury found that an internist and neurologist were negligent in the man’s care and that their negligence harmed him.
Back in 2007, the man signed an HIV consent form as he underwent a series of tests to determine the cause of facial paralysis he was experiencing. A resident at the Massachusetts hospital had told him that his symptoms were “highly suggestive of HIV infection.”
The neurologist thought there was no need for an HIV test and canceled it without telling his patient.
When the man later visited the internist (his primary care physician), he was reassured that his tests “looked good.” The man thought the reassurance included an HIV test because he had, after all, signed the consent form for that test.
Three years later, when he was finally tested, he learned not only that the initial test was never performed, but that he was by then HIV positive. He was also struggling with cognitive impairment caused by the brain damage.
Truly a nightmare of negligence. He will never know how much damage could have been prevented had his doctors performed the needed tests.
Anyone who suffers harm at the hands of a negligent physician should speak with an attorney experienced in medical malpractice litigation.