The misdiagnosis of serious ailments such as cancer can lead to a patient’s worsening illness and even death. For example, Montana residents may find it interesting to know that a late Native American activist’s widow has filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against her deceased husband’s medical team.

In the lawsuit she accuses the doctors who treated her husband before his death of misdiagnosing his ailment and thereby contributing to his worsening health that eventually led to his death. He finally succumbed to esophageal cancer in 2012 at the age of 72.

The woman claims that the doctors that treated her husband overlooked clear symptoms of cancer. She alleges that their obvious negligence and incompetence at recognizing and diagnosing the symptoms as cancer delayed her husband receiving the appropriate care for months on end, which in turn severely degraded his chances of treating the cancer effectively before it got to an aggressive stage that could not be treated effectively.

Specifically the lawsuit accuses the doctors of failing to diagnose her husband’s cancer during a number of visitations between the months of February and April 2011. The couple was concerned that it could be cancer and expressed their fears to their doctor. The man underwent an esophagogastroduodenoscopy, but his doctor did not diagnose the man with cancer. Instead, the doctor indicated that other than a possible enlarged tonsil everything seemed to be just fine.

According to court documents, in July 2011 when the couple saw that his condition was getting worse they then decided to seek a second opinion. It was then that he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. The doctor ordered a biopsy to confirm his suspicions and the test indicated that the cancer was malignant. A year later cancer had spread to his lymph nodes and lungs. Shortly thereafter, he passed away. The cancer had reached an aggressive stage and had become untreatable. His wife is seeking an unspecified amount in monetary damages.

As this shows, the failure to diagnose a condition such as cancer can have deadly consequences that are made all the more tragic when they could have been prevented. Victims of medical malpractice or their families deserve to hold the responsible physicians liable and receive compensation for their injuries and losses.

Source: Santa Fe New Mexican, “Russell Means’ widow sues Christus medical provider, claims misdiagnosis led to activist’s death,” Patrick Malone, June 21, 2014