Misdiagnosis Leading to Maine Girl’s Paralysis Results in $1.9M Settlement

A Maine girl must now use a wheelchair for the rest of her life after pediatricians wrongfully diagnosed her with severe constipation, rather than the acute leukemia from which she was actually suffering. That was the claim made by the plaintiff in a Maine medical malpractice lawsuit against the practitioners and a walk-in clinic. That claim was recently settled with a $1.9 million settlement, which will be placed into a trust for the girl. Her parents told The Bangor Daily News they hope the settlement will help improve the quality of life for the girl, who will likely never walk again.

According to reports, the girl’s parents brought the six-year-old into a walk-in clinic on one February day in 2014. They knew she was very sick. Two doctors diagnosed her with severe constipation and assured her parents this issue would pass. However, her parents grew increasingly worried because their daughter’s fever did not subside, her stomach grew hard and distended, and her eyes were glazed over.

Concerned, her parents took her to Maine Medical Center in Portland. Four days after seeing the first pediatrician in the walk-in clinic, she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of childhood cancer. Her parents say from the moment she began treatment at the larger facility, their daughter’s health began to improve drastically. However, the delay in her treatment initially resulted in leukemia cells blocking blood flow from the girl’s lower spine to her legs, rendering her paraplegic.

Now nine years old, the girl underwent a bone marrow transplant that has left her with no detectable trace of the cancer. However, doctors now expect she will use a wheelchair for the rest of her life because the cancer wasn’t caught in time.

The nearly $2 million settlement was reached with the U.S. government, which provides the medical malpractice insurance for the walk-in clinic where the girl was first diagnosed.

The settlement will allow her family to first and foremost buy a van that is specially equipped for a wheelchair so that they won’t need to physically move her from the wheelchair to the car. It will also cover the cost of a hoist to assist her in getting in and out of bed and onto the toilet. It may also cover the costs of future wheelchairs and other kinds of adaptive equipment, and potentially also for college someday, should she choose to go.

An attorney for the family said that the trust won’t be adequate to cover all of the girl’s care needs throughout the remainder of her life, and the family is still intending to take the doctors individually to task. They were not employed by the clinic and thus were not indemnified by the settlement. That is often the case with physicians at a hospital or clinic.

As our Bangor medical malpractice lawyers know, diagnostic errors are the most common medical error alleged in malpractice cases. A report by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, revealed that 72 percent of medical malpractice cases against primary care physicians involved misdiagnoses. This was based on an examination of 550 medical malpractice cases from 2005 to 2009. Nearly two-fifths of these cases involved a cancer misdiagnosis, while others involved heart disease, infections, strokes, and blood vessel diseases.

If you are a victim of a Bangor car accident, contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-804-2004 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:

Misdiagnosis leads to paralysis, $1.9 million settlement for Maine girl, June 20, 2017, By Judy Harrison, Bangor Daily News

More Blog Entries:

$1.785M Awarded in Maine Medical Malpractice Lawsuit, Feb. 10, 2016, Bangor Medical Malpractice Lawyer Blog

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