WellStar – Georgia’s largest healthcare system – is being sued for misdiagnosis by a patient who says he received subpar care in 2018. In this post, our medical malpractice attorney offers information about the lawsuit. Furthermore, we offer information that you need to know about misdiagnosis and medical malpractice.
Misdiagnosis Lawsuit Background
Damien Robinson went to WellStar Kennestone Hospital in Marietta in March 2018. At the emergency room, he complained of chest pain, numbness, weakness, urinary retention and sensory loss. He was only 18 years old at the time.
The emergency room doctor ordered magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the lumbar spine without contrast. After that, the symptoms and MRI results were discussed by the emergency room doctor, a neurologist on-call and an associate neurologist. As a result, the neurologists diagnosed Robinson with conversion disorder, a mental disorder that causes patients to experience paralysis, weakness, blindness and other symptoms without physical explanation.
Robinson believes that the process of reaching such a diagnosis was wrong from the beginning. He later saw another doctor who diagnosed him with transverse myelitis, which is spinal cord inflammation. Robinson notes that the doctors at Kennestone did not explore this option as a possible cause of his symptoms, even though it is a more probable cause.
“For a patient with Robinson’s history, characteristics and symptoms, transverse myelitis was one of the most likely of only a few potential causes of rapidly progressing neurological losses in an 18-year-old previously healthy man,” the lawsuit says.
Lawsuit Filed Against WellStar
In response to the ordeal, Robinson filed a lawsuit against WellStar, Kennestone and the two doctors who made the diagnosis of conversion disorder, Dr. James Armstrong and Physician Assistant Elizabeth Bleakley. The lawsuit claims that contrast in the MRI was necessary in order to explore Robinson’s symptoms and possible causes of the numbness and weakness. It further claims that an MRI with contrast was the standard of care that he should have received. Contrast in an MRI helps the images be clearer and illuminates possible problems.
Robinson says that the spinal inflammation was untreated for days following the emergency room visit, which caused further harm that could have been avoided. The lawsuit states,
“Because of Dr. Armstrong’s and PA Bleakley’s failure to treat Damien Robinson in accordance with the standard of care, Robinson suffers serious, permanent physical injury.”
The lawsuit was filed in the DeKalb County State Court in November 2019. Robinson is seeking a minimum of $10,000 in damages for what the lawsuit claims is “professional negligence.” The lawsuit seeks physical, economic and emotional damages. Robinson is also seeking legal fees.
Meanwhile, WellStar disputes Robinson’s claims. Dr. Armstrong and PA Bleakley no longer work at Kennestone.
Medical Malpractice and Misdiagnosis
Misdiagnosis is one of the most traumatic types of medical malpractice. Patients who need answers often feel neglected and may experience significant health problems that are avoidable. Consequently, the physical and emotional toll is staggering. Not to mention, inadequate or unnecessary medical care results in financial strain for many patients.
Misdiagnosis is a problem in almost all areas of healthcare because any doctor can make a mistake. Some of the conditions most commonly misdiagnosed include:
- Asthma – Asthma is often misdiagnosed as chronic cough or recurring bronchitis.
- Cancer – Signs of cancer may be missed and doctors may not order adequate tests to determine if cancer is a risk.
- Endometriosis – Doctors often misdiagnose endometriosis for minor gynecological disorders, cysts, fibroids or difficult menstruation.
- Heart Attack – Heart attacks may be misdiagnosed as indigestion, panic attacks or esophageal disorders.
- Stroke – Doctors may dismiss the signs of stroke for migraine or other neurological disorders.
- Staph Infection – Staph infection is sometimes misdiagnosed as the flu or a virus.
These are only a few examples of the numerous possible ways that doctors may misdiagnose a patient. The situations leading to misdiagnosis may include a healthcare provider:
- Misfiling or losing medical records
- Confusing your records with someone else’s
- Failing to order certain diagnostic tests
- Misinterpreting test results
- Failing to call in a specialist or refer you to one
- Failing to thoroughly investigate your symptoms
To say that every medical error is medical malpractice is untrue. Sometimes healthcare providers do their very best and follow the standards of care, but a diagnosis can be incorrect or delayed.
Can I Sue a Doctor for Misdiagnosis?
When the doctor(s) is negligent in their care or fails to meet the standard of care, you may be able to take legal action. To do so, you must prove that medical negligence occurred and that the negligence caused you harm. This is most successful with the assistance of a medical malpractice attorney.
To prove that your case is medical malpractice, you must prove:
- That the healthcare provider violated the standard of care. These standards vary depending on your health, your symptoms, the condition you have and your geographic location.
- That the healthcare provider’s violation of the standard of care caused you harm. To do this, your legal team will need to interview expert witnesses who can attest to the standards and what should be done in a given situation.
If you can prove these elements, then you may be able to receive compensation for your injuries and losses. These losses are damages. In medical malpractice claims, damages may include:
- Economic Damages – These are damages with a value, such as medical expenses, future medical expenses, lost wages and loss of earning capacity.
- Non-Economic Damages – Non-economic damages are more difficult to put a value on because they are intangible. Non-economic damages include things like pain and suffering and loss of consortium or companionship.
The total value of your claim will depend on a variety of factors, including the type and severity of your injury. Also, every medical malpractice claim is different and requires an individualized approach to litigation.
Have Questions About Medical Malpractice?
Do you think you are a victim of medical malpractice? If so, contact Brown, Christie & Green. Let our Houston medical malpractice attorney review your case and determine your best options for recovery. Our primary office is located in Downtown Houston, but we work with clients throughout Texas and Louisiana.
To learn more or request a free consultation, call Brown, Christie & Green at 1-800-600-4210. You can also reach out online through our online contact form.