In 2004, Spokane resident Darlene Turner visited Dr. Nathan Stime for a physical after she had been feeling considerably ill, and the physician determined that she had terminal cancer. While that news must have been both shocking and horrifying for Turner, it was presumably even more shocking when she learned that Dr. Stime’s diagnosis was incorrect. She did not have terminal cancer, and was actually suffering from pneumonia. Unfortunately, that misdiagnosis led to Turner slipping into a coma and eventually having her foot amputated.
Last week, a jury awarded Turner a verdict of $813,000 in what was actually the second trial of Turner’s claims against Dr. Stime for medical malpractice. The first trial occurred in 2008; however, the jury in that trial ruled in favor of Stime. It was later determined, though, that some of the jurors had made racial slurs related to Kamitomo’s Japanese heritage, as they called him “Mr. Miyagi” and “Mr. Kamikaze” while in private deliberations. Two jurors informed Superior Court Judge Robert Austin of what was going on, and a mistrial was declared.
Following an unsuccessful appeal by Stime and his attorney, a new jury and judge were assigned to the second trial that resulted in the verdict in Turner’s favor. Kamimoto, according to the Spokesman-Review, was able to prove that the now-retired Stime had incorrectly diagnosed Turner’s pneumonia as cancer, which led to the avoidable amputation of her foot.
Turner’s case wasn’t the only accusation that had been leveled against Stime, either. In 2007, Stime was fined by the state of Washington twice. One of those fines was for failing to diagnose a patient’s rectal cancer after six years of treatment, with the other due to a patient suffering a heart attack after Dr. Stime failed to identify the symptoms. In 2009, Stime was fined by the Washington Quality Assurance Commission for prescribing methadone to addicted patients, including one man who overdosed and died.
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