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Ohio patient can add emotional distress to malpractice suit

When you go to the doctor, you expect to receive proper medical attention. You put your trust in physicians and do not expect them to make mistakes. However, sometimes doctors fail to provide correct treatment or to accurately diagnose their patients. A recent article from The Columbus Dispatch details an ongoing case related to one doctor’s failure to diagnose a patient.

In a current case, an Ohio woman is suing a physician for failing to diagnose her with cancer. The medical malpractice lawsuit stems from a 2003 mammogram appointment the woman attended. According to reports, the physician performing the test failed to recognize a lump in her breast and told her the results were normal.

The following year, the woman found the lump and was instructed by a gynecologist to get another mammogram. This diagnostic mammogram found a 2-centimeter lump in her breast. Tests determined that the mass was cancerous. The cancer had spread to her lymph nodes, forcing her to undergo various forms of treatment, including chemotherapy and radiation.

The woman is now suing the physician who performed the first mammogram for failing to recognize the lump. According to court documents, the lump was visible at the time of the 2003 mammogram. One expert said it is likely that the cancer would not have spread had the doctor diagnosed her correctly and prescribed correct treatment.

Last week, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the woman will be allowed to seek additional damages for emotional distress as part of the malpractice lawsuit. This rejected the doctor’s argument that a patient has to actually feel the cancer progressing in order to seek compensation. The case will now be reviewed by the Summit County Court of Common Pleas.

Source: The Columbus Dispatch, “Patient’s lawsuit can add emotional distress,” Catherine Candisky, 23 April 2011