Malpractice suit plaintiff is awarded $4.4 million

Cancer was misdiagnosed, woman says


A 50-year-old Gwynn Oak woman with terminal cancer who alleged that her medical condition was misdiagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome has been awarded a $4.4 million judgment by a jury in a malpractice suit against her former physician.

Joyce Grimstead sued Dr. McNeal Brockington after another physician linked the back pain she had for three years to what became a large cancerous tumor. Brockington had diagnosed her pain as irritable bowel syndrome, according to the lawsuit tried in Baltimore Circuit Court. Grimstead is undergoing chemotherapy but has been told she will likely die soon, the mother of two grown children said Tuesday after the jury decision.

"He didn't do everything he could have done," Grimstead, who works as a secretary at the National Institutes of Health, said of her former doctor. "For three years, I complained about pain in my back, and he didn't do what was necessary to find out what it was."

Grimstead's attorney, Gary A. Wais, said two doctors testified during the eight-day trial that Grimstead would likely have been able to survive the cancer if it had been diagnosed earlier. She was treated by Brockington from early 1999 to July 2002. Her cancer was diagnosed by a second doctor after a CT scan in September 2002.

Brockington's attorney, Ronald U. Shaw, said yesterday that he would appeal the verdict.

"I think that the verdict had to be based on sympathy because there was overwhelming evidence that the medical care was appropriate and the patient singled out one doctor, out of nine, who provided her care," Shaw said.

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