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Woman Goes through Unnecessary Chemo After Cancer Misdiagnosis

Doctor Patient MisdiagnosisAfter suffering through eight grueling rounds of chemotherapy treatments for a disease she never had in the first place, Herlinda Garcia filed a cancer misdiagnosis lawsuit and was awarded $367,000 in damages. The 54-year-old Victoria, Texas resident was relieved when she found out she didn’t have stage IV terminal breast cancer, but was left angry and filled with anxiety and depression after her nightmarish ordeal.

As reported by CBS News, Garcia’s physician, Dr. Ahmad Qadri, had misread his patient’s lab results, an act which Garcia’s medical malpractice lawyer argues sent her down a miserable path of fear and deteriorating health from unnecessary chemotherapy. Garcia – a mother of four – said that she turned into a “whole different person” when she got the disturbing diagnosis after having a tumor removed from her left breast.

Jurors award Garcia $367,000 in cancer misdiagnosis lawsuit

The Texas woman was sure that her life was coming to an untimely end, and even wrote a bucket list and donated many of her personal belongings. Not seeking a second opinion, Garcia says she had trust in her physician. “I just wanted to give up on everything,” she said. After Dr. Ahmad Qadri prescribed chemotherapy, she endured seven months of treatments with chemical poisons, feeling both her mind and body weakening. She told Houston affiliate KHOU that her entire body was swollen and she had lost both her eyelashes and eyebrows from chemotherapy.

Garcia also became increasingly anxious and sought help at the Citizens Medical Center where tests showed that Herlinda was a healthy woman, and never had breast cancer to begin with. Further scans performed at Houston’s M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, one of the area’s most respected facilities, confirmed the cancer misdiagnosis. “I was happy, but at the same time, I had that anger. The damage had been done,” Garcia said.To compensate for her physical pain and mental anguish, Victoria county jurors rendered a $367,000 verdict in favor of Garcia. She told reporters that she hopes her story will inspire others to always seek a second medical opinion. “I know I’m never going to feel the same because of what I went through” Garcia said, adding “It changed my life.”

Four years have now passed since Garcia was misdiagnosed by the now deceased Dr. Qadri. If she had the opportunity to relive that part of her life again, she says she would have sought a second opinion to avoid the emotional and physical horrors that ensued.

Importance of getting a second medical opinion

In the context of medical malpractice, mistakes of this magnitude are fortunately somewhat rare, according to CBS News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook, who said  “In 33 years in medicine, I’ve never heard of a case like this.” Others in the health care community stressed the importance of seeking a second opinion. Dr. Agustin Garcia, an oncologist and associate professor at California’s Keck School of Medicine, says that a second expert opinion will not only confirm a diagnosis but open doors to other treatment options a patient might consider pursuing.

Dr. Garcia, who is not related to the plaintiff in this cancer misdiagnosis lawsuit, also told CBS News that cancer treatments are not “set in stone,” since patients can investigate experimental trials and therapies that may be available. For those who are diagnosed with cancer, Dr. Garcia recommends asking about their doctor’s specialty area, particularly in cases where the cancer is a less-common type.