A Colorado woman who became partially paralyzed after doctors misdiagnosed her brain bleed as a migraine filed a medical malpractice lawsuit in 2008. Last month the jury returned their verdict. They awarded $3.9 million to Krissy Myatt finding her doctor guilty of medical malpractice.
In 2006, Krissy went to the emergency room at a hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado complaining of intense headaches. There, staff took her blood pressure which was a dangerously high 204/97. According to the National Heart Lung & Blood Institute, a blood pressure reading of 140/90 is considered high. A blood pressure reading of 160 systolic or 110 diastolic is considered severe. Krissy had been receiving treatment for multiple sclerosis, including high dose steroids that can cause high blood pressure. However, doctors diagnosed Krissy with a migraine and sent her home with pain medication. The following day, Krissy woke up without a headache but she could not walk or talk. Krissy's medical malpractice lawyer successfully argued Krissy paralysis was caused by an undiagnosed brain bleed which caused her to suffer a hemorrhagic stroke.
Misdiagnosis is a common type of medical malpractice lawsuit, including those that result in wrongful death. According to John Hopkins patient safety expert Dr. David Newman-Toker, misdiagnosis errors must be reduced. Based on a 2009 study, Dr. Newman-Toker estimates that between 40,000 and 80.000 hospital deaths occur every year from misdiagnosis errors. Of course, not every misdiagnosis occurs because of medical malpractice. However, Dr. Newman-Toker points out, "[w]e're not performing as well as we could. There is room for improvement."
With a husband and two young children, Krissy Myatt and her family have paid dearly for her doctor's misdiagnosis. The jury's award will certainly be put to good use. However, it will not change the fact her quality of life will never be the same.
Coloradoan, Fort Collins Woman Wins $3.9 Million Suit Against Former PVH Doctor, April 20, 2012.
National Heart Lung And Blood Institute, What Is High Blood Pressure, Viewed May 4, 2012.
Injury Board Network, Honolulu, Misdiagnosis And Wrong Diagnosis By Doctors Cause 40,000 deaths Each Year, August 16, 2009.