Brooklyn Mom Given 6 Months To Live After Kings County Hospital Mistake

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo & Plotkin LLP

What would you do if you were told that you only had six months left to live? An even better question is, what would you do if someone told you that you only had six months to live due to their negligence? These questions may seem unorthodox, and for the majority of us, something we have not had to drum up an answer to. Unfortunately, for Laverne Wilkinson, a 41-year-old mother with terminal cancer, this question is not unfamiliar.

Doctors at Kings County Hospital have given Laverne, a single mother of a disabled child, six months to live due to the undetected lung cancer, which has now spread, to both of her lungs, brain, liver and spine. But was Laverne’s lung cancer really undetected? After the State health department launched an investigation, the news revealed that Kings County Hospital emergency room doctors sent Wilkinson home with a clean bill of health after she came in with right-side chest pains on Feb. 2, 2010. What she was never told was that two hours after she was released, a Kings County radiologist’s written report documented a 2-centimeter nodule in her right lung with a suggestion for follow-up scans. Cancer experts say that she would have had a 75% chance of being cured if treatment had begun when the nodule was first discovered.

Laverne’s case has inspired reactions from people all over the country, sending money, prayers, and medical advice in an attempt to help her during this tragic time. It is an unfortunate and devastating fact, that at this point, people’s sympathy will not reverse Laverne’s diagnosis, instead only a miracle can undo what Kings County Hospital failed to.

It seems as though medical “mistakes” are becoming increasingly popular amongst news reporters and legal advocates. These “mistakes” create a gaping hole of mistrust within the medical industry, damaging the morale of our society. Being able to trust your doctor with your life is one of the fundamentally basic ideals our society is built upon. Figuring out the source of this problem can create complex questions with vague answers.

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, about 90% of all applicants with over a 3.8 GPA and 39 cumulative MCAT get accepted into medical school. And only about 10% with an MCAT below a 20 and a GPA below a 3.4 get accepted. Despite these statistics, it seems as though grade point averages and scores on standardized test are no longer a good measure of good medical practice. These institutions hiring these young doctors must evaluate these individuals with much more scrutiny. Laverne Wilkinson’s sad case demonstrates how, just because you can theoretically be a doctor, does not mean you should be a doctor. Millions of people place their lives in the hands of these medical professionals everyday, its time for doctors to assert proper judgment and stop giving away life sentences followed by a mere “I’m sorry”. For Laverne, “I’m sorry” just is not enough.

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