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Kansas doctor found negligent in stroke victim's diagnosis

A woman suffered a stroke in December 2007, one day after she consulted with a Wichita doctor about her medical condition. The patient's widowed 83-year-old husband and three children recently won a $1.2 million a medical malpractice lawsuit against the Kansas physician.

The liability lawsuit alleged the doctor misdiagnosed the patient and dismissed serious stroke symptoms. The woman visited the physician twice during the same month. The husband accompanied her to the second consultation in which the doctor diagnosed the patient with non-life-threatening carpal tunnel syndrome.

The husband stated his wife asked the doctor if the symptoms she had - extremity tingling and numbness, vision problems and dizziness - were signs of an oncoming stroke. Without conducting any tests, the doctor informed the patient that she was not a stroke candidate.

The stroke occurred the following day. The patient died just over a year later.

The defendant's attorney argued the doctor's diagnosis and treatment did not breach a duty to furnish a standard of care. The defense maintained the stroke was a coincidence that the physician could not foresee.

It took a jury took three weeks to hear the case and conclude that allegations of medical negligence were true.

A Kansas statute will prevent the malpractice victim's family from receiving the entire jury award. State law limits what plaintiffs can receive for some damages. The total will be reduced to about $907,000.

The jury was convinced the Wichita physician did not do all that he could to care for the patient. The patient's stroke was severe. The woman may have been incapacitated before she was able to relay what happened at the doctor's office. The court might never have known the doctor ignored the stroke symptoms if the patient's husband was not with his wife during the diagnosis.

Damages allow families of malpractice and wrongful death victims to recover financially and emotionally from a loved one's loss.

Source: kansas.com, "Jury finds $1.2 million in damages in verdict against Wichita doctor" Tim Potter, Jun. 18, 2013

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