Jury Awards Man $4 Million Over Mistaken Diagnosis, Related Surgery

Verdict_Against_Prominent_NeurologistA jury has awarded a man nearly $4 million in damages over an incorrect diagnosis and unnecessary surgery.

The man says he was disabled and is sick following treatments by neurologist Dr. Dale Lange, according to CBS New York. “I went through a lot of unnecessary stuff; a lot of pain; eventually lost my wife and family over all this—and I’m like, you know what? He did me wrong,” he said.

The man was referred to Dr. Lange at Mount Sinai Hospital in 2005. According to him, he said that, at the time, he thought. “Finally, someone was going to tell me what’s wrong with me.” He described a strange condition. “I simply would fall, and then get right back up; fall, get right back up,” he told CBS New York.

Dr. Lange diagnosed the man with the neuromuscular disease, myasthenia gravis. The patient underwent years of significant medical treatment, medication, and surgery. “He removed my thymus gland, which—I never regained full strength to lift materials because my chest is wired closed,” the man told CBS New York.

Dr. Lange left Mount Sinai Hospital four years later, and the patient said he was still suffering and needed a new physician. He told CBS New York, “(The new doctor) was not convinced that I had myasthenia gravis, and she discontinued some of the harmful medications.” The new doctor came to a very different diagnosis, cataplexy, which involves sudden muscle weakness. She prescribed a new drug and the man says he is feeling better.

The patient told CBS New York that the $4 million would not re-build his life. “When I learned I had a crippling, deadly disease, I withdrew from the family. I didn’t do the normal family activities with my daughter or son or wife—and we grew distant…. That’s why we’re divorced.” The jury awarded his ex-wife $1 million for loss of services.

He underwent chest surgery to remove his thymus and also underwent blood and drug treatments as part of the misdiagnosis of the sometimes-fatal myasthenia gravis. He also gained 80 pounds and developed hypertension, according to the New York Daily News. The man, 42, described the treatments as “agonizing” and said that the surgery involved his chest being “sawed open.”

The man told the Daily News that Dr. Lange told him, “it’s a disease that will not go away…. If left untreated, you will become crippled and possibly die a lot quicker.” He then underwent 74 treatments, yet continued to suffer from abrupt falls. A job change led him to the new doctor who diagnosed him with cataplexy, a type of sleep disorder usually controlled with medication. The man told the Daily News that he is now “fall-free.”

Lange’s lawyer said he plans to “vigorously appeal” the verdict, according to the Daily News.

Today, Dr. Lange is neurologist in chief at the Hospital for Special Surgery on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

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