$20M Settlement for Misdiagnosis of HIV Resulting from Undetected Documentation Error

August 24, 2012 | Strategic Insights for Ambulatory Care


A medical center responsible for mistakenly telling a patient that he was HIV-positive ended a seven-year litigation process when it agreed to a $20 million settlement, states an August 10, 2012, Washington Post article. The 52-year-old patient sued the medical center in 2005 because a clinician had told him that he was HIV-positive. According to court records and interviews with the patient’s attorney, the patient visited the medical center after his girlfriend at that time told him that she had AIDS and feared that she had infected him. After the patient underwent HIV testing at the medical center, an employee mistakenly recorded that he had undergone two tests at the clinic and that the results from one test were positive. A physician at the facility allegedly failed to carefully review the patient’s chart and counseled the patient about the virus. No additional blood tests were conducted over the next four years and the patient continued to believe he was infected with HIV. According to court records, as a result of the misinformation, the patient became depressed, quit his job, began to abuse drugs and alcohol, and was committed to psychiatric wards twice because of suicidal ideation. The clinic continued to monitor the patient and arranged for him to live in a facility with HIV-positive people.

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