A Kentucky man has filed a lawsuit alleging medical malpractice after doctors treated him for HIV for almost eight years even though he didn’t actually have the virus that causes AIDS. Bobby Russell, 43, filed the suit against the doctors and others at the University of Kentucky Medical Center, the UK-affiliated Bluegrass Care Clinic and the Fayette County Health Department.
According to Russell, the defendants were negligent in misdiagnosing him and failing to order the appropriate tests for HIV.
“I feel like I was sentenced to a crime I wasn’t guilty of,” Russell said. “I have intentionally put distance between my family and my friends because I thought I was dying, and I didn’t want my family to see me dying. I didn’t want my nieces and nephews see me deteriorating. I thought I was dying ... Emotionally, mentally, it destroyed me. It just destroyed me. In 2009, when things got really bad for me, suicide was a strong option for me.”
Russell was incorrectly diagnosed in 2004 when he went to the emergency room seeking treatment for profuse bleeding from the colon. A new test revealing he didn’t have HIV was done in August 2012.
Jonathan C. Dailey, the lawyer representing Russell, said a full battery of tests for HIV was never conducted.
“The fact is that the standard-of-care-protocol methodologies for HIV testing were never done,” Dailey said. “By failing to follow the standard protocol, and telling him that he was HIV positive, telling him that he could only have relations with HIV-positives, then that damage has been done. You can’t take that back. That’s the critical part of this case.”
UK spokesman Jay Blanton declined to comment on the matter, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported.
“This has been the most traumatic event for me. The worst. The worst,” Russell said. “I’m not so sure the next person can be as strong as I have to be able to stand up and fight for what they believe in. If it saves one person, it’s worth it.”