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Federal inmate's family gets $975K for medical negligence

A federal inmate felt a small, swollen spot near his right armpit. As the bump started to get larger, he attempted to contact the administration of a federal prison to obtain an appointment with a medical physician. However, for more than 18 months, he remained unsuccessful.

The inmate's fears were validated when the lump turned out to be non-Hodgkin lymphoma -- a type of cancer that spreads through the lymph nodes. Unfortunately, he did not get a CT scan on the lump until the cancer had spread substantially. He eventually passed away in 2010, a year after his release from prison. In Dearborn, Michigan, the former inmate and his family sued the federal government in the U.S. District Court in Pikeville -- both in 2009 and 2010. Both suits were for negligence as it related to a failure to diagnose his cancer, which led to his worsened condition. The family eventually settled out of court for an amount totaling $975,000.

Unfortunately, this inmate and his family's situation is not an isolated case. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, of the 173,896 federal inmates in 2009, 399 inmates died. The death of inmates in federal prison has also slowly increased through the years.

If you have experienced misdiagnosis or a late diagnosis that resulted in the progression of a disease or even death, then you should file a claim. Misdiagnosis of a serious illness can either be a single act of negligence or a culmination of several events. Mistakes can be made through the failure of medical staff to communicate efficiently, radiological errors and laboratory errors. It is often helpful to consult with an attorney who can determine who could be liable for medical negligence.

Source: Associated Press, "Family of deceased federal inmate, government settle negligence suit for $975K," Brett Barrouquere, Sept. 12, 2012

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