Being diagnosed with serious illness or disease is a life altering event for a person and the individual’s family. Most people expect their healthcare provider and hospital to provide a reasonable standard of care. However, there are times when a doctor may negligently misread a result, a laboratory may get a false positive or a hospital may mix-up paperwork leading to a misdiagnosis. Such an event can have a detrimental physical and psychological impact on the patient and their family.

Montana residents may find it interesting to learn that recently a 43-year-old U.S. veteran filed a medical malpractice lawsuit to sue a hospital that allegedly misdiagnosed him with HIV. According to his suit, in 2004 the hospital’s infectious disease clinic indicated that he was HIV-positive. The man questioned the result and stated that an earlier result was negative. The hospital ordered a second test confirmatory test. The second result came back negative for both HIV-1 and HIV-2. However, despite the negative result, the 43-year-old man’s doctors indicated he should begin treatment for HIV and provided him with information on how to cope with HIV.

The man relied on his doctor’s expertise and information and began a HIV drug regimen which included taking nearly 15 pills a day and using a well-known HIV drug treatment drug AZT – laboratory experiments have shown AZT to be carcinogenic. Further, the 43-year-old indicated that as a result of his HIV-positive status, in the last nine years or so he only had sexual relationships with HIV-positive persons.

The man’s HIV diagnosis came into question when the VA where he was seeking benefits required a valid diagnosis. However, the man could not provide a laboratory result showing that he was HIV-positive. Now, nearly nine years later, the man is seeking another confirmatory test to determine if he is HIV-positive at another hospital, but his attorney notes that it is now possible that he may have contracted the virus because he only dated HIV-positive person after his misdiagnosis.

The medical malpractice suit has named the hospital, the hospitals infectious disease clinic and the county health department, and the man is suing them for failure to exercise reasonable care in diagnosing and treating his HIV. The 43-year-old is seeking an undisclosed amount of compensation in damages. A person facing doctor negligence in a situation like this may be entitled to compensation for damages.

Source: The Huffington Post, “Bobby Russell, U.S. Veteran, Files Lawsuit Claiming HIV Misdiagnosis,” Hunter Stuart, Sept. 3, 2013