A Montana man brain cancer diagnosis shows how difficult it is to determine whether or not a person has a “terminal illness”. Mark Templin was awarded US$59,000 for expenses and emotional stress after his doctor wrongly told him in 2009 that he had only six months to live. “It is difficult to put a price tag on the anguish of a man wrongly convinced of his impending death,” said the judge. “Mr. Templin lived for 148 days … under the mistaken impression that he was dying of metastatic brain cancer.”
One of Templin’s daughters asked the doctor how her father would die and “he explained one of the tumors would grow ‘like cauliflower’ and Templin would die from a brain bleed.”
After that disturbing diagnosis, Mr Templin sold his truck and quit his job. He put his affairs in order and displayed a large sign in his home saying “Do Not Resuscitate”. His family held a “last birthday” dinner for him and he paid for a funeral service. His son-in-law made a wooden box for his ashes. He entered a hospice for dying patients.
He even considered shooting himself to spare himself and his family the pain of a terminal illness.
However, Mr Templin began to get better, not worse. He booked himself out of the hospice and had more tests. These revealed that he had had a stroke and that he did not have a brain tumour.
A judge ordered that Fort Harrison Veterans Affairs Medical Center pay Mr Templin $59,000 for the distress that the diagnosis had caused and to reimburse him for his “last” birthday celebration and his pre-arranged funeral.
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