Failure to Diagnose

Our 66 year old client, a renowned sculptor and custom furniture maker, was at the gym when he suddenly began experiencing severe pain and numbness in both legs below the knees. He was taken to a local emergency room where the initial diagnosis was a lumbar nerve entrapment. An MRI of the lumbar spine was performed and essentially read as normal. He was discharged with instructions to follow up with an orthopedist. Three days later with his leg pain worsening his family took him to Jackson Memorial Hospital where he was found to have no circulation in either leg below the knee. Ultrasounds determined that he had major blood clots. He immediately under went life saving surgery having both legs amputated below the knee. The cause of these clots was determined to be a large abdominal aortic aneurysm. We obtained the medical records from the original hospital emergency department and directed our investigation to the MRI of the lumbar spine. We discovered that the initial scout images thoroughly revealed the aneurysm. Remarkably we learned that it was the hospital’s radiology department policy to black out the portion of the images that did not relate to the dedicated purpose of the study. Thus the radiologist was only provided the portion of the MRI images depicting the actual spinal column. The hospital offered arbitration pursuant to Florida’s medical malpractice pre-suit statute in order to impose significant caps on damages and the amount our client could recover. In doing so the hospital essentially admitted liability. We recovered the maximum recoverable by law for pain and suffering, $250,000, and a total settlement of $2,000,000 which included damages for home modifications, attendant care, prosthetic rehabilitation and training, specialized transportation and other needs to accommodate his disabilities.

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