A recent case in the nation’s capital has set a precedent in favor of patients and against careless doctors. Doctors who give false information about life-threatening illnesses will be held responsible for their actions.
Hopefully, the results of this case–one man being told he was HIV positive, when in fact he was not-will help prevent further emotionally-damaging mistakes in the future.
A man named Terry Hedgepeth, from Washington, D.C. was misdiagnosed as being HIV positive.
It all began when a clinic worker wrote down the wrong information about Hedgepeth’s test results. The worker wrote down that one of the tests read positive.
But that was only the beginning.
How Misdiagnosis Spelled Disaster
Hedgepeth’s doctor, instead of reviewing the information more thoroughly, began to counsel Hedgepeth about how to live with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
The man (52 at the time) underwent no other blood tests during the next four years. Instead, he became depressed, quit his job, and began to abuse alcohol and other drugs.
Hedgepeth had to be committed to psyche wards on two different occasions due to suicidal thoughts.
When Good News is Also Bad News
In 2005, the man opted to pursue an alternative therapy from Abundant Life Clinic in Washington State. The clinic discovered during initial blood testing that he was not in fact HIV-positive!
While that was good news for Hedgepeth, he still suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder due to the wrong information he was given by his doctor.
He sued his original clinic for $20 million dollars for emotional distress. The clinic settled out of court just a week before the trial date.
This sends a strong message to medical professionals that they should be extra-careful when dealing with diagnoses of life-threatening illnesses. If you have suffered from emotional trauma due to similar carelessness on the part of your physician, you should contact a skilled Snyder and Snyder's medical malpractice lawyer to receive a free consultation.