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A jury recently awarded a North Philadelphia woman $11.2
million for damages incurred after ER physicians from Temple University Health
System Hospitals failed to order a CT scan when she arrived at the emergency
room showing symptoms of a brain tumor.

In March 2004, 20-year-old Yanira Montanez was admitted into
the ER at Philadelphia’s Episcopal Hospital complaining of nausea, vomiting,
headaches, and numbness in her face, arms and legs. Doctors there released her after treating her
with nausea medication. The next day,
she went to Northeastern Hospital with similar symptoms, and after being
treated with medication for gastrointestinal discomfort, was released
again. The day after that, the same
symptoms sent her back to the ER a third time, and a third time, after the
doctor treating her had decided that the likelihood of a brain tumor was “very,
very low,” she was released without a CT scan.

The following day, Montanez passed out and fell down the
stairs at home, allegedly as a result of the brain tumor that could have been
treated, her lawsuit alleged, if on any of the previous days, the CT had been
performed. She was subsequently treated
at Temple University.

Montanez’s attorney, Kenneth M. Rothweiler, has argued that
the negligence on the part of ER doctors is connected to his client’s Medicaid coverage. “People on Medicaid don’t get the same
treatment in the emergency room as people with private insurance,” he said,
alleging that the CT scan was not performed because doctors knew Medicaid would
only pay the hospital $135 for the procedure, which cost more than $3000. “Anybody with those symptoms and a Blue Cross
Blue Shield card or comparable insurance would have been CT scanned on the
first visit.”

Today, Montanez is blind, paralyzed, and brain-damaged as a
result of the tumor. She also has a
four-year-old daughter, born just four months before her tumor was
discovered. $5.9 million of her
settlement has been designated for future medical treatment.

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