Misdiagnosis of cystic fibrosis

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Case in Point

August 21, 2012

Misdiagnosis of cystic fibrosis 

The plaintiffs alleged that a pulmonary clinic’s physicians misdiagnosed their son as having cystic fibrosis by failing to perform a proper positive chloride sweat test or retest the child in light of negative genetic testing. The jury awarded $2 million. Johnson v. MCV Associated Phys.

After being diagnosed with asthma, Te’von Johnson, 5, was referred to the Virginia Commonwealth University Medical College of Virginia pediatric pulmonary clinic. Over the course of several visits, he underwent testing, including a sweat test to rule out cystic fibrosis. The sweat test was read as positive for cystic fibrosis. Shortly after, an outside laboratory reported to Johnson’s treating pulmonologist that the child’s blood draw was negative for the 34 most common types of cystic fibrosis genetic mutations.

The pulmonologist subsequently diagnosed cystic fibrosis and pancreatic insufficiency. Johnson began taking several medications and underwent daily chest physiotherapy and testing over the next seven years. When Johnson was 12, another doctor performed a repeat sweat test, which came back negative for cystic fibrosis. Johnson’s parents were informed that their son had been misdiagnosed.

Johnson’s parents, individually and on their son’s behalf, sued the clinic. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendant’s physicians had misdiagnosed cystic fibrosis by failing to perform a proper positive chloride sweat test or retest Johnson in light of the negative genetic testing and the child’s clinical symptoms, which did not conform to the diagnosis.

The jury awarded $2 million.

Citation: Johnson v. MCV Associated Phys., No. CL10-4982 (Va., Richmond City Cir. Mar. 22, 2012).

Plaintiff counsel: AAJ member Lewis T. Stoneburner and Bellamy Stoneburner, both of Richmond, Va.


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