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$1.5M Awarded For Misdiagnosis

Aug 9, 2003 | The Cincinnati Post

In 2001, Janet Armstrong was a healthy 42-year-old mom and wife who had at least 35 good years ahead of her.

At least, that's what she said she was led to believe when doctors misread her mammogram, allowing undetected breast cancer to spread and leaving her with a life expectancy of five years.

After more than three weeks in trial, a Hamilton County jury Friday ruled for Armstrong in the medical malpractice and negligence suit she filed and awarded her $1.525 million.

Feeling a lump in her right breast, Armstrong went to her doctor in December 2000 and was referred to Christ Hospital Diagnostic Imaging for a diagnostic mammogram.

"Although the mammography showed an obvious mass and microcalcifications, the films were negligently interpreted and reported as normal," Armstrong's suit claimed.

Because the mammogram was misinterpreted, Armstrong alleged, her breast cancer went undiagnosed for five months, resulting in the cancer "growing, metastasizing, worsening and spreading throughout her breast to her lymph nodes and other portions of her body."

Despite a radical mastectomy and chemotherapy and radiation treatments, the negligence and malpractice means Armstrong "will be dead by May 2006," documents in her case note.

In the trial, before Common Pleas Court Judge Robert Ruehlman, Armstrong's attorneys asked for $10 million, $7.75 million more than they asked for in a Nov. 20 settlement offer rejected by attorneys for the doctors, hospital and other medical agencies named in the suit.

Of the 14 original defendants sued, seven were dismissed from the suit the day before the July 29 trial started.

Initially, the suit sought more than $3 million for the loss of the 33 years of life expectancy Armstrong would have had had the cancer been detected.

It also sought $2.4 million for the loss of Armstrong for her young daughter.

She also sought "recovery for emotional distress and mental anguish suffered by Janet as a result of her knowing that the cancer will recur and that her life will be shortened thereby," the suit noted.

"There's nothing really the hospital can say" because the hospital was dismissed as a defendant, a hospital spokeswoman said late Friday.

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