After hearing the story, and examining the records, the attorney felt that Mr. L had a case.
“You never should have been rushed into surgery like that,” said the attorney. “The physician misdiagnosed you and subjected you to unnecessary surgery when cat scratch fever could be treated with antibiotics or nothing at all, and then he damaged a nerve during the unnecessary surgery.” The attorney initiated a lawsuit against Dr. M and the medical center.
When Dr. M was notified about the lawsuit, his heart sank. What he had been dreading, and trying to avoid, had happened. He met with the defense attorney provided by his insurance and they discussed the case.
“I was doing what I thought was best for the patient,” said Dr. M. “What if he’d had cancer that wasn’t diagnosed. A swollen lymph node can be cause for concern – I was choosing caution.”
After several years of paperwork, depositions, and court appearances, the case finally went to trial. At trial, expert medical witnesses for the plaintiff testified that he had been both misdiagnosed, and then injured during surgery. The experts pointed out that cat scratch disease is usually benign and self-limiting and that most patients recover without treatment. They added that it can be diagnosed with a simple blood test, and that Dr. M should have considered it a possibility since he was told that the patient lived on a farm and rescued stray animals.
Dr. M testified that he had been concerned for the well being of the patient and that enlarged lymph nodes are often a sign of cancer and that a biopsy was warranted.
After deliberating, the jury found for the plaintiff, and awarded Mr. L $4.2 million in damages.