On June 18, 2018, a federal medical malpractice jury in Massachusetts returned its verdict in favor of a man who alleged that his physicians failed to test him for HIV despite his risk factors, which led to a three-year delay in diagnosis by which time the man had AIDS.
The plaintiff reportedly requested a HIV test in 2007 but his physicians did not order a HIV test. A subsequent physician recommended a HIV test three years later, which came back positive. By the time of the HIV testing, the former lawyer had suffered brain damage from AIDS that prevented him from continuing to practice law.
The 48-year-old plaintiff presented evidence during the eight-day federal medical malpractice trial showing that he consented to a HIV test in May 2007 when he was being evaluated for facial paralysis in a hospital. A resident at the hospital allegedly recommended the HIV test but the defendant neurologist canceled the HIV test, without advising the plaintiff, and noted in the plaintiff’s medical record “no risk for HIV.”
When the plaintiff visited with his primary care physician (one of the medical malpractice defendants) one month later, the physician allegedly advised him that all of his medical tests “looked good” and the plaintiff assumed that included the HIV test that he had consented to in the hospital.
The plaintiff’s cognitive abilities deteriorated over the course of the next three years. Once he was tested for HIV, he learned that he had the virus and he learned for the first time that he had not been tested for HIV three years prior. While the plaintiff does not presently suffer from AIDS-related symptoms due to medication, his brain damage is irreversible and the harm he was caused to suffer is also irreversible.
The federal medical malpractice jury determined that the defendant neurologist and the defendant primary care physician were medically negligent and were responsible for the harm caused to the plaintiff. The jury also found that the defendant infectious disease specialist was also negligent but that his negligence did not harm the plaintiff.
After the federal medical malpractice jury returned its verdict in favor of his client, the plaintiff’s medical malpractice lawyer stated with regard to the plaintiff, “He had a brilliant future in front of him. They literally cut the legs out from under him. He lost his job. He lost his career. He lost his life.”
A spokesperson for the hospital where the plaintiff was treated in 2007 has indicated that the defendants plan to file an appeal.
If you or a loved one suffered harm as a result of the misdiagnosis of HIV status in Massachusetts or in another U.S. state, you should promptly seek the legal advice of a local medical malpractice attorney in Massachusetts or in your state who may investigate your HIV medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a HIV malpractice lawsuit, if appropriate.
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