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Misdiagnosis allegedly costs man 20 years in psychiatric ward

Many medical malpractice cases in Pennsylvania, like elsewhere in the country, often involve medication errors, hospital mistakes and delayed diagnoses of diseases such as cancer. But sometimes other forms of error such as misdiagnosis can take something just as valuable as a life -- time.

Recently, a 52-year-old Nebraska man filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against 21 physicians and other medical staff members of the Lincoln Regional Center for an alleged misdiagnosis that cost him 20 years in a psychiatric ward. According to court documents, the plaintiff was released from the psych ward after a psychiatrist determined that he had originally been misdiagnosed with a delusional disorder in connection with a 1993 criminal case. The man was charged with the use of a weapon and false imprisonment in that case but was later found not guilty by reason of insanity.

The doctors who made the original diagnosis reportedly based their findings solely on police reports. In 2013, a psychiatrist discovered that the man's supposed delusional disorder in 1993 had actually been caused by a medication he had been taking for a back injury. When the man stopped taking the medication, his supposed psychotic episodes stopped, according to the psychiatrist. The man's medical malpractice lawsuit alleges that the misdiagnosis of mental illness took him to the psychiatric ward for treatments he did not need and cost him the chance to live a normal life and have a family. He is seeking more than $22 million in damages and $10 million in punitive damages and lost wages.

A mere misdiagnosis can substantially change a patient's life, including his or her health and finances. If these consequences result from a medical error that could have been prevented, then those responsible can be subject to a malpractice lawsuit that will allow the patient to obtain compensation.

Source: Opposing Views, "Man Insists He was Misdiagnosed, Kept in Psych Ward For 20 Years," Kathy Schroeder, July 14, 2014

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