Cancer Misdiagnosis Damages: Texas Mom Awarded $250K After 7 Months Of Painful Chemotherapy For Breast Cancer She Never Had [REPORT]

By Philip Ross on July 17, 2013 11:44 AM EDT

cacner diagnosis
A cancer misdiagnosis resulted in 54-year-old Herlinda Garcia (not pictured) undergoing seven months of chemotherapy, even though she didn’t have the terminal disease. (Photo: Reuters)

A cancer misdiagnosis led one Texas mother to undergo seven months of excruciating chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer she never had. The 54-year-old woman, who is from Victoria, a city roughly 125 miles southwest of Houston, was diagnosed with Stage 4 terminal breast cancer in 2009. Turns out, her doctor was mistaken, and a cancer misdiagnosis damages lawsuit ensued.

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The Houston Chronicle reports that Garcia, a mother of four, was awarded $367,500 by a Victoria County jury last week for medical malpractice. That figure was whittled down, however, to $250,000 because of a state law that limits each claim liability to a quarter of a million dollars.

No amount of money "is ever going to cover what I went through," Garcia told the Houston Chronicle.

Three years ago, Garcia had a benign tumor removed from her left breast. When the results of her biopsy came back, Garcia's oncologist, the late Ahmad Qadri, who died in March, misread her PET/CT scan during one of her earlier visits.

When Garcia later visited the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, a physician there thought she had been misdiagnosed. Further testing proved the physician was correct.

"When I first heard the news at M.D. Anderson and was told that 'you don't have it,' I was happy because I was blessed ... because my faith is very strong," Garcia said.

Garcia's cancer misdiagnosis, and subsequent damages, is not the first malpractice lawsuit to make headlines this year. In June, a man in Maine was awarded $200,000 after a doctor misdiagnosed him with an aggressive Stage 4 pancreatic cancer four years earlier. Insurance Journal reports that Wendell Strout actually had non-Hodgkins lymphoma, a far more treatable form of the disease.

Strout claimed "tremendous emotional distress" in the suit, in addition to income loss and loss of enjoyment.

According to The American Journal of Medicine, 15 percent of all medical cases in developed countries are misdiagnosed. Cancer misdiagnosis could be as high as 44 percent for some types of cancers.

"These statistics should be getting a lot more attention," the Seattle Times reports. "Misdiagnosis means needless suffering for patients and their families, and in many cases, even lost lives. Secondarily, it also means nearly one-third of the $2.7 trillion spent each year on health care in the U.S. are considered to be wasted dollars."

The Seattle Times reports that a number of factors contribute to cancer misdiagnosis. For one, the U.S. health care system is fragmented, meaning miscommunication is rampant. Tests are misread or delayed, patients are given the wrong tests, and mistakes are made.

Also, once a patient has been given a diagnosis and treatment begins, some physicians are stubborn to retract or second guess their diagnosis. Doctors are also incredibly strapped for time, with today's physicians spending on average between 10 and 15 minutes with a patient. Therefore, in-depth analysis and detail-oriented care plummet.

Read more from iScience Times:

Talia Castellano, 13-Year-Old YouTube Star And Honorary CoverGirl, Dies Of Cancer

FDA On Arsenic In Apple Juice: 'The Dr. Oz Show' Study Prompts New Limitations On Cancer-Causing Chemical [REPORT]

Fish Oil Linked To Prostate Cancer: Omega-3 Acids May Increase Risk Of Disease By 70 Percent, Researchers Discover [VIDEO]

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