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Woman Awarded Compensation for the Failure to Conduct an MRI

A young Los Angeles woman has been awarded more than $7 million compensation for the failure to conduct an MRI, due to which she lost her leg to cancer.

Anna Rahm from Woodland Hills in Los Angeles was just sixteen years of age when she attended the family chiropractor in January 2009, complaining of a back pain that had started the previous summer and that had spread down to her right leg. After two months of unsuccessful treatment, the chiropractor suggested that Anna attend the Kaiser Permanente Woodland Hills Medical Center and undergo an MRI Scan.

Anna’s treating physicians at Kaiser Permanente initially refused to conduct the scan. Three months later, when Anna´s condition had deteriorated further, her mother convinced Anna’s primary care physician that the scan was necessary. The MRI was eventually performed on July 2nd, 2009, when a large and aggressive tumor – a pelvic osteosarcoma – was discovered in Anna´s pelvis.

Anna subsequently underwent ten weeks of chemotherapy but, due to the osteosarcoma failing to lessen, had an above-the-knee amputation of her right leg, the removal of half her pelvis and spine fusion surgery in October 2009. Anna resumed chemotherapy to rid her body of the rest of the cancer, but was unable to complete the full course of treatment due to developing a C.diff infection.

Eventually Anna´s treatment resumed, and was concluded in June 2010. It is still necessary for her to undergo a regime of check-ups, lab work, PET scans, bone scans, CAT scans and MRIs – and Anna understandably is prone to bouts of depression and phantom limb pain. Doctors believe that she is now 90% clear of the cancer and should not have to undergo chemotherapy again.

In July 2010, when Anna was still seventeen years of age, her parents – James and Lynette Rahm – made a claim for compensation for the failure to conduct an MRI when it was first requested. They alleged – on their daughter´s behalf – that the pelvic osteosarcoma was aggressive and fast-growing and, had it been diagnosed in March 2009 instead of in July 2009, Anna would have had other treatment options other than the amputation of her leg.

The Southern California Permanente Medical Group contested the claim, saying that the same surgery would have been necessary had the diagnosis been made in March 2009 because of the cancer´s location. However, a jury at the Superior Court of Los Angeles County found in Anna´s favor and awarded her $7,151,990 compensation for the failure to conduct an MRI.

The award of compensation for the failure to conduct an MRI is likely to be reduced by just over $1.5 million for the jury awarding more than the allowable $250,000 limit for pain-and-suffering awards in medical malpractice cases in California.