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Federal Jury Awards $18.4 Million to Patient Not Properly Tested For HIV


In June, a federal judge awarded almost $18.5 million in damages to a man whose previous doctors failed to test him for HIV in spite of obvious risk factors (being gay and a paramedic) that made him more susceptible to HIV/AIDS.

Reportedly, the man originally went to the hospital in 2007 due to facial paralysis, whereby a resident informed him that his symptoms were suggestive of HIV/AIDS. After he consented to testing for HIV, his attending neurologist not only disagreed, but cancelled the test without informing him. By the time the HIV progressed into AIDS, he suffered significant brain damage and his career as an attorney was effectively over.

Cancelling Requested Tests without Telling a Patient

Discovering that he had AIDS was effectively delayed years because after going to the hospital in 2007, when the patient visited his primary care physician and was told that his “tests looked good,” he assumed that this included the HIV/AIDS test, since no one at the hospital informed him that he had never actually received the test. Sadly, by the time he learned that he did have the virus, he was already struggling with brain damage and cognitive impairment.

After an eight-day trial, the jury found that both the patient/plaintiff’s neurologist and internist had been negligent in caring for him and causing him injury. They also found that a third doctor—an infectious disease specialist—was also negligent; however, his actions were not found to have caused the patient harm.

HIV Testing Recommended By the CDC

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all patients between the ages of 13 and 64 be screened for HIV at least once, and that sexually active gay and bisexual men/who have sex with other men get tested for HIV every year.

What about False Positives?

It is also important to note that patients have sued doctors over the exact opposite circumstances: One woman filed suit for emotional distress when she was misinformed that she tested positive for HIV. Not only can false positive results cause emotional harm, depression, and pain, but they can also give rise to defamation, libel, and slander, in some circumstances. When some individuals find out that they have HIV, they leave their work, receive expensive medical treatment, and go to see mental health experts.

Florida Medical Negligence Attorneys

Medical mistakes aren’t just made when doctors make obvious mistakes during surgery, procedures, etc., but also when there is a medical omission which results in harm.

If you have been injured by an oversight by a doctor—including the failure to perform a particular test—contact us today at Friedland & Associates to find out how our Florida medical negligence attorneys can help.



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