$60k for man wrongly told he had terminal cancer


CT scanner

Mark Templin, a retiree from Montana, has been awarded $60,000 damages, after wrongly being told he had terminal brain cancer and just six months to live. Templin had sold his possessions, held a 'final' birthday party and bought a funeral package. However, when he started to feel better he went for more tests. At that point it emerged that he didn't have cancer at all.

He has been awarded the sum to repay expenses and provide compensation. But he is far from the only person to have been a victim of this sort of misdiagnosis.


According to local paper, The Independent Record, Templin had gone into hospital in January 2009 because he was suffering chest pains, and he had a stent inserted. Weeks later he was having headaches and problems with his memory, vision and speech.

He had a CT scan, which Dr Patrick Morrow of Fort Harrison VA Medical Center said showed a brain abnormality which could be a brain tumour, stroke or something else. The radiologist recommended further tests. However, Morrow met with the hospital board later that day and presented the case as a strong suspicion of brain cancer.

According to The Daily Mail, Morrow told the trial that he advised further tests, but these did not show on Templin's medical records. He was prescribed medication for brain cancer, ordered to go into a hospice, and his family were told he would die.

In the following months he gave up his job, sold his truck, held a 'last' birthday party, and bought a funeral package.

However, when he started feeling better he left the hospice and went for further tests - which revealed he did not have cancer.

The judge said: "It is difficult to put a price tag on the anguish of a man wrongly convinced of his impending death." He added: "Mr Templin lived for 148 days ... under the mistaken impression that he was dying of metastatic brain cancer."

He awarded him $500 a day for the period when he believed he was drying of brain cancer, and $300 a day for the period between discovering it wasn't cancer and finding out it was a series of small strokes that had affected him. He also had the cost of the party and funeral paid. He received a total of $59,820.

Not alone

It's a horrifying tale, but what's even more horrifying is that he is far from alone in suffering a cancer misdiagnosis.

In the UK in 2007, 72-year-old Doreen Nicholls was diagnosed with cancer in her leg. She had it removed below the knee to stop it spreading. It was only after the operation that tests revealed there was no cancer in her leg. She received a six-figure compensation payment.

In 2009, a 45-year-old mother of two from the South West of England was incorrectly diagnosed with fatal liver cancer and told she had months to live. She had suffered breast cancer five years earlier and after a CT scan was given the diagnosis. In fact, she had a non-cancerous growth - which she only learned a month later. She took a year to come to terms with what happened, and received a settlement of £6,000 from the NHS Trust.

Then there was the 67-year-old who was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2004. The pensioner, from Rugeley in Staffordshire, was given what she thought was life-saving surgery, to remove her stomach. It was only after the operation she learned that the tumour was benign and her stomach had been removed needlessly. She received an out of court settlement from Mid Staffordshire General Hospitals NHS Trust.

In each case there were different circumstances, with different doctors interpreting results of tests incorrectly, or failing to carry out sufficient tests before giving a diagnosis.

In each case, the victims said that no amount of money could make up for the mistake.

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