Medical malpractice. These two words strike fear into the hearts of millions of doctors all over the world, but especially in litigious societies, such as the United States. Not all states require doctors to have malpractice insurance, but in practice, most doctors do. If a doctor is lucky, he or she will never need to use the insurance. However, it’s not always up to him or her.
A jury in Missouri awarded a patient with Wilson disease nearly $30 million for her doctor’s negligence in diagnosing the disease in time.
Emilee Williams went to Mercy Clinic Springfield Communities at the end of 2012 complaining of fatigue, tremors, insomnia, and more symptoms. She was seen by a doctor at that first visit. Her mother accompanied her as well. Williams asked to have an MRI and neurological exam, but the doctor decided that these tests were not necessary as she reasoned Williams’s symptoms were related to depression and anxiety, conditions Williams already had.
Over the next several months, Williams’s condition continued to deteriorate. She and her mother continued to push for the MRI and neurological exam. However, the doctor did not order the MRI until August 2013, nine months after Emilee’s first visit.
The image revealed severe damage to portions of her brain caused by advancing Wilson disease.
Wilson disease is a condition characterized by a body’s inability to properly metabolize copper. The copper accumulates in various organs within the body causing damage.
Originally, the lawsuit, filed in July 2015, held the doctor as well as the hospital liable. However, the doctor’s name was eventually dropped. Williams’s lawyer argued that the hospital was negligent in allowing her to deteriorate for nine months before proper testing was conducted.
It is not clear as to why Williams did not seek a second opinion. The jury only deliberated for two hours before they returned with a decision in favor of Williams’s claim. All totaled, the hospital will end up paying out $28.9 million in damages to Emilee and her family for medical costs and damages.
Hopefully, no one else will have to endure the negligence Emilee experienced before her eventual diagnosis.