Herlinda Garcia, a mother of four from Texas, underwent seven months of chemotherapy, gave away her belongings and prepared for her death after being diagnosed with Stage IV terminal breast cancer in 2009. However, her doctor misread the lab results after she had a benign tumor removed and none of the painful treatment was necessary.
Garcia, who was also on anxiety medication to help code with the stress of the ordeal, filed a medical malpractice lawsuit and a Texas jury awarded $367,500 in damages against the late Dr. Ahmad I. Qadri. State District Judge Skipper Koetter is expected to lower the award to comply with state law, which limits liability to $250,000 per claim. Qadri died in March of this year and the damages were awarded from his estate.
But no amount of money, "is ever going to cover what I went through,” said Garcia, a 54-year-old part-time civil process worker with the state. “Before [the diagnosis], I was always dressing up, wearing jewelry. When something like that [mistake] happens, your self-esteem is not there. Now I'm working on getting it back."
Qadri, an oncologist, diagnosed Garcia with cancer about a month after her surgery to remove a benign tumor from her left breast.
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The diagnosis "was like a mourning process — mourning for myself," Garcia stated. "I just lost my dad three years before, and I felt like I was mourning for my family."
In 2011, Garcia was admitted to Citizens Medical Center for treatment of anxiety, and doctors performed some scans because she was a cancer patient, but one physician suspected that was an incorrect diagnosis.
An evaluation at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center "confirmed that Ms. Garcia had been cancer free since the April 2009 mastectomy and that all of Dr. Qadri's treatment had been unnecessary," according to the suit.
"I don't hate [Qadri] but I feel that the patient trusts the doctor, and they need to take that extra effort to read things a little closer so a mistake like this isn't made," Garcia said.