Patients throughout the Bronx can be badly harmed by a misdiagnosis made by a medical professional. When a doctor makes an error and fails to diagnose a patient with a serious medical condition, a patient's treatment can be delayed, making the patient's health problems worse or even irreversible. A failure to correctly diagnose a serious medical condition can have life-changing or fatal consequences. But the consequences can be just as dangerous or life-threatening if a doctor diagnoses a condition a patient does not have.
When patients are diagnosed with conditions they don't actually have, such medical misdiagnosis can lead to unnecessary treatments. These treatments can affect patients' health in terrible ways. Patients who are over-treated or given drugs or therapy they do not need face all of the side effects of such treatments but do not get any of the benefits. Doctors who misdiagnosed conditions can be held responsible for resulting damages in a civil lawsuit.
Medical Misdiagnosis Can Cause Patients Serious Harm
In most cases, misdiagnosis is unintentional or accidental. In some situations, however, doctors intentionally misdiagnose patients because the doctor wants to obtain compensation for such unnecessary treatments. When this occurs, misdiagnosis can not only result in a civil lawsuit allowing victims to recover damages but also in a criminal case against the doctor for healthcare fraud or other crimes. Yahoo News recently reported one egregious case in which a physician was sentenced to 45 years in prison for intentionally misdiagnosing patients with cancer and subjecting patients to unnecessary chemotherapy treatments. The chemotherapy scam affected more than 550 victims and racked up $34.7 million in payments for more than 2,000 unnecessary treatments, Yahoo News reported.
Dr. Farid Fata, a 50-year-old cancer physician, will likely spend the rest of his life in prison for his intentional misdiagnosis of cancer patients. The defense argued the physician should be sentenced to 25-years because of his hypertension and diabetes, which give him a shorter lifespan. Prosecutors argued for a 175-year maximum sentence.
Speaking at his sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Paul Borman, who sentencing the Fata to 45 years in prison, said the doctor "shut down whatever compassion he had as a doctor and switched it to making money," according to an Associated Press article published by The New York Times.
Patients, Family Members Speak Out Against Unnecessary Medical Treatments
The 45-year sentence was for crimes of healthcare fraud and illegal payments for unnecessary medical services. Patients and family members whose lives were turned upside down by the misdiagnosis spoke at the sentencing hearing.
"Farid Fata, I hate you," said Laura Stedtfeld, who blames Fata for her father's death, according to another about the case published by The New York Times. "You are repulsive. You disgust me. You are a monster. ... Clearly you're a coward because you can't even look at me now. You poisoned, tortured and murdered my dad."
Patients described having no teeth left, having chronic pain and weakness, and experiencing other serious and permanent health problems because the doctor falsely told them they had cancer and they underwent unnecessary chemotherapy, which kills healthy cells.
Unnecessary Medical Treatments Dangerous, Can Cause Harm
Dr. Fata also administered unnecessary treatments to people who actually did have cancer. These patients experienced also serious health problems since they received far more chemotherapy treatments than necessary to treat cancerous cells.
In addition, some patients developed cancer because of the chemotherapy and some patients died. One woman spoke at the sentencing hearing for the doctor and accused him of torturing her father on purpose for no reason after intentionally misdiagnosing him.
Because Dr. Fata lied to patients to collect more than $34 million for more than 2,000 unnecessary chemotherapy treatments, this case was considered a criminal case. While intentional misdiagnosis for profit is unusual, misdiagnosis cases are not uncommon. Misdiagnosis is a leading cause of civil lawsuits for medical malpractice. Not every medical error or misdiagnosis will result in criminal charges against the physician. But every case where patients suffer because of a medical error could result in a lawsuit in which patients might be entitled to be compensated for their losses.