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Reversal of Diagnosis: Canadian Man Told He Was Terminal

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Vancouver, BCIn June 2008 David Earl Meisner was given the bad news at Surrey Memorial Hospital in Vancouver, British Columbia. His prostate cancer had spread and was causing the lower back pain that had brought Meisner to the hospital in the first place. The only option at this point was a palliative radiation therapy. Meisner was terminal.

Six months later, after several rounds of painful treatment and emotional trauma, BC Cancer Agency and the doctor who believed he saw cancer on Meisner`s bone scan said that, in fact, Meisner never had cancer.

"The wrong diagnosis was made and he was told he was dying—his family was told he was dying," says Canadian lawyer Angela Price-Stephens, who is representing Meisner and his family in a medical malpractice suit against the BC Cancer Agency, Dr. Alexander L. Agranovich and three radiation therapists who treated Meisner.

"The family was then walked through by the caregivers how he was going to die."

Thinking that Meisner had only months to live, his family began to prepare themselves for what was to come. "The family sold their home and possessions. Mrs. Meisner thought her husband was going to pass away imminently and that in fact it was all based on a wrong diagnosis," says Price-Stephens.

According to the documents filed with the BC Supreme Court, it was ultimately determined that cause of Meisner`s pain was a spine fracture. The suit alleges that Dr. Agranovich breached his duty of care by, among other things, "failing, refusing, neglecting to properly examine, investigate, assess, test and diagnosis the plaintiff."

"He wasn't advised that the diagnosis was wrong for quite some time and the evidence of the family suggests it was done in a less than sensitive manner," says Price-Stephens.

Three months after the reversal of diagnosis, in March 2009, Meisner underwent back surgery for his spinal fracture. He was left with radiation burns to his lower back and ongoing pain and symptoms resulting from radiation therapy.

In Canada doctors involved in medical malpractice suits are represented by the Canadian Medical Protective Association (CMPA), a 109-year-old organization that provides legal defense and liability protection for Canada`s 76,000 doctors.

"I expect the CMPA will argue black is white and the world is flat," says Price-Stephens. "They don't take into consideration whether it might be better to settle. They fight tooth and nail and don't care about the financial considerations."

Price-Stephens estimates she takes only one out ten cases brought to her and bases her decision on the merits of the case.

Angela Price-Stephens is in solo practice in Vancouver, British Columbia, in association with the firm of Murphy Battista. Price-Stephens was born and educated in UK and immigrated to Canada in 2004. Since then she has focused solely on representing plaintiffs who have suffered injury primarily through medical malpractice.

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