Missed diagnosis of STD...
(Middleburg Hts, OH)
A veteran was recently married. He experienced penile discharge after an 18 month separation from wife. Upon reconciliation, the wife insisted that the discharge was not normal, and felt it was an STD. The wife eventually left her husband. She went to her gynecologist and had several tests performed, gonorrhea, chlamydia and trichomoniasis, syphilis, HIV - all were negative.
The veteran went to his primary care physician at the VA and explained his situation. The PCP tested his discharge for chlamydia and gonorrhea, both were negative. At that time the MD told her nurse to tell the veteran the good news! He was given a week's worth of antibiotics.
In 2012 there was a reconciliation between the veteran and his wife. She noticed he still had the discharge, and went with him to see a different primary care doctor at the VA. Upon inspecting the veteran's penis and discharge, he did a culture of deep urethral swabbing and noticed a raised skin bump on his penis. The veteran said that same bump was there when he saw the other doctor and she didn't mention there was anything unusual.
The new doctor performed tests for chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, trichomoniasis, and did a biopsy of the skin lesion. The results were positive for trichomoniasis, and positive for genital warts from the biopsy. The doctor treated the veteran with a parasitic drug and resolved the discharge. The veteran also received surgical removal of the wart and was sent to urology for further testing.
All the while the veteran's white blood cell counts were elevated over 11.5 for almost 3 years. After treatment with diflucan and cryo-surgery, the veteran was better and his WBC returned to normal levels below 10.
His wife now had to get an exam. Her test results for gonorrhea, chlamydia, and trichomoniasis were all negative (but there was little intercourse between them). She was also treated with diflucan. HIV and syphilis tests were also negative. She was to receive a PAP and get tested for HPV. Tests from her gynecologist early in the year were needed because of intense bleeding starting after one time intercourse and which lasted weeks.
Her doctor did a biopsy, as she was postmenopausal for 3 years. The results were negative, but diagnosis was positive for chronic cervicitis. The bleeding resolved after 2 months and was attributed to changes in tissue from menopause. However, it is now known that HPV causes genital warts, and in women is the leading cause of cervical cancer. She now must have close watch on development of cervical cancer from HPV exposure.
The first doctor for the veteran was negligent in her genital exam of the veteran, as well as negligent in performing complete STD screenings. She also did not followup with him or give him correct medicine for treatment. Is this medical malpractice? What can be done about the inappropriate lack of diagnosis and treatment? Thank you for any perspective you can give.
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ANSWER for "Missed diagnosis of STD...":
George (Middleburg Hts, OH):
The veteran you speak of may have the basis of a medical malpractice claim. Because the VA is a governmental institution the veteran will have to retain an attorney to file a Federal Tort Claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act. Over the last ten years the number of medical malpractice claims against the Veterans Administration have increased by over 30 percent.
The Federal Tort Claims Act permits former military men and women to seek compensation from the US government when injured as a result of the negligence of a governmental agency or employee. The Veterans Administration is a governmental agency and the doctor(s) who examined and treated the veteran are employees of the agency, even if the doctor(s) only work for the VA part time and have private medical practices.
The facts you present are very complex. The answer to your questions will lie in a close scrutiny of the veteran's medical records by an attorney and medical professional. The veteran would be best served by gathering copies of all his medical records and then seeking the advice of a medical malpractice attorney with experience in Federal Tort Claims.
The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.
Best of luck,
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