$8M Suit Claims Botched Diagnosis Damaged Face and Leg Nerve
By Ramona Young-Grindle
PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) – A Kaiser patient contends in a suit filed in Multnomah County Superior Court, she has endured "unnecessary surgeries, loss of her jaw joint, jaw arthritis, malocclusion, shifting of her teeth, facial numbness, leg numbness, permanent nerve damage, loss of motor function, facial asymmetry, loss of strength," scarring and loss of enjoyment of life, due to a medical diagnosis of cancer when her jaw, instead, was infected.
Haley Thompson sued Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, Northwest Permanente, P.C., and NW Permanente Physicians & Surgeons P.C. for medical negligence.
Thompson’s complaint claims she first saw a dentist about her jaw pain in June and July 2017, but as the pain continued to worsen, she saw a Kaiser doctor in October who affirmed the dentist’s diagnosis of temporomandibular Joint Disorder, and also ordered an MRI.
The MRI imaging results were “worrisome for primary osseous malignancy, to be excluded over other etiologies such as chronic osteomyelitis,” meaning bone cancer should be ruled out before making a diagnosis of other causes, such as bone infection. A further recommendation of a CT scan was made to determine how much bone was involved in order to plan for taking a tissue sample, according to the action.
After the CT scan, “it was concluded these findings may represent inflammatory process such as chronic myositis and chronic osteomyelitis versus infiltrating neoplasm,” the action alleges, meaning the findings favored a diagnosis of infection over cancer.
Nevertheless, the suit states that the next doctor Thompson saw diagnosed “a facial mass and neoplasm jaw,” and she was told “she has a tumor of the left mandible which was concerning for possible osteosarcoma versus other bone tumor, such as lymphoma or Ewing’s versus chronic infection.” The doctor order a biopsy.
At the end of October, Thompson had the biopsy, and in November she was told the pathology report showed she had a “desmoid fibroma of her left mandible,” which is a rare benign tumor, but it required “complete excision,” the complaint claims. The surgery was scheduled for Jan. 9, 2018.
During the surgery, the suit states that three teeth were removed, part of her left jaw was removed, screws were inserted, and mesh was used at the donor site in her hip. The excision from the donor site damaged a nerve in her leg. “Plaintiff’s left mandible was sent to [the pathologist] for examination,” the suit states.
The pathology results were reportedly much different from the initial report, with a finding of osteomyelitis rather than fibroma. Osteomyelitis is treated with intravenous antibiotics, with surgery only if the patient does not respond to the initial treatment.
According to the action, Thompson had unnecessary surgeries, loss of her jaw joint, jaw arthritis, malocclusion, shifting of her teeth, facial numbness, leg numbness, permanent nerve damage, loss of motor function, facial asymmetry, loss of strength, and scarring, as well as pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and inability to continue in certain life activities.
Thompson seeks economic damages of $500,000 and noneconomic damages of $7.5 million. She is represented by Tim Jones of Tim Jones PC, in Portland, Oregon.