Many of the largest medical malpractice awards or settlements are related to a doctor's failure to make a correct diagnosis or with respect to a late diagnosis. In these types of cases, a malignant growth or another escalating disease process may be unnecessarily allowed to grow freely within the patient's body. A good portion of medical negligence claims in Oregon and other states are thus for misdiagnosis or late diagnosis complaints.

In one misdiagnosis case in another state, a jury recently returned a verdict of $28 million against two gastroenterologists who misdiagnosed a man's ulcer and treated him instead for a dormant condition that then flared up and caused him permanent disabling injuries. The man went to the defendants in 2011 with abdominal pain. The doctors diagnosed Crohn's disease without considering any other diagnoses.

Defendant doctors engaged in more than a dozen surgeries on the man, requiring almost three years of hospitalizations, resulting in short-bowel syndrome that left him in a wheelchair and in need of 24-hour care permanently. The surgeries would have been unnecessary if a perforated ulcer had been initially discovered. He did have Crohn's disease in the past but had experienced no symptoms for over a decade. The jury agreed with the plaintiff's case that the doctors had deviated from the minimum standard of care required under the circumstances.

Under state law, a limit on non-economic damages reduced $13 million of the verdict down to $695,000. The award of $14 million in future medical and life care expenses and more than $1 million in past expenses was allowed to stand. His lawyers indicated that the funds will be used to finance around-the-clock care for the rest of his life. The plaintiff presented expert testimony by specialists that explained how the defendant doctors did not treat the situation with a minimal degree of professional care, and how the negligent misdiagnosis caused the catastrophic injuries. The determination of liability by the doctors would likely be similar in Oregon under this state's negligence laws.

Source: The Baltimore Sun, "Baltimore jury awards $28 million damages in malpractice case", Lorraine Mirabella, Sept. 4, 2015