March 26, 2009

Malpractice Suit Against Air Force Doctor Upheld By Judge

An $8.5 million ruling given to a woman who lost use of her arm from "flesh-eating" bacteria that was originally not found by an Air Force doctor has been enforced by a federal judge.

Magistrate Judge Philip Frazier fulfilled a part of the U.S. government's petition to reduce the $1.13 million in damages he accrued in 2008 from Jean Phillips. Frazier reduced damages requested that covered Phillips' medical expenses by $62,748, making it an $8.46 million payout.

Frazier had found that Dr. Dan MacAlpine, located at Scott Air Force Base, did not diagnose the rash on Phillip's on arm in 2002. MacAlpine, who wrongly assumed that Phillips was addicted to and looking for prescription drugs, sent her home and told her to take over-the-counter pain medicine.

However, the rash was necrotizing fasciitis, a flesh-eating bacterium, which caused cost Phillips to lose the use of her right arm.

"This is a sad story," Frazier stated in his, noting that Phillips, now "faces the future with no reason to be optimistic that things will improve."

Thomas Keefe, Phillips' lawyer, is worried about the payout and the appeal process, which could prevent immediate payment.

U.S. Attorney's office spokesman Randy Massey stated that his office is "looking at all options."


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