Man Awarded $12M After Incorrect Cancer Diagnosis Led Doctors to Remove His Prostate
The clinic had mixed up his tissue samples with another patient
An Iowa man was awarded $12.25 million on Friday after he was misdiagnosed with cancer and underwent surgery to remove his prostate.
A pathologist at the Iowa Clinic had mixed up Rickie Huitt’s tissue samples with another patient who did have prostate cancer, which she admitted to in a July 2018 deposition. Based on the incorrect results, Huitt believed he had cancer and went through with the surgery to remove his prostate in April 2017. He said that the operation damaged nerves in the area and left him impotent and incontinent, the Des Moines Register reports.
Huitt, 67, said during the trial that his incontinence is getting better, but a year after the surgery he is still using two to three urine absorbent pads a day to manage the condition. His wife Judy said she has to frequently clean and Febreze the house to cover up the smell, which their granddaughters often notice.
“I blame it on the dog, because I don’t want them to think it’s Grandpa,” she said in her testimony.
Judy also said that the surgery has halted their previously-strong love life.
“It’s changed our world forever,” she said.
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The clinic only learned of their mistake after the surgery, when a second pathologist analyzed the now-removed prostate gland and determined that it was not cancerous.
While the two sides agreed that the Iowa Clinic was at fault for mixing up the tissue samples, they differed on the compensation. Lawyers for the clinic and the pathologist believed Huitt deserved around $750,000, while his lawyers wanted $15 million. At one point his lawyers tried to increase the ask to $46.6 million but it was blocked, and the Polk County jury decided on $12.25 million.
A representative from the Iowa Clinic told PEOPLE that they “are not comfortable commenting until the judge enters the verdict into record.”
Following the jury decision, the Huitts told the Register that they were relieved the trial was over, and that they hoped to get in contact with the man who did have prostate cancer. His correct diagnosis came four months late because of the mix-up.
“We felt like we led his life for a few months. We just hope he’s OK,” Judy said.