Misread CT scan at the center of $10M lawsuit against U.S. government

Richard Stayskal, a Green Beret from North Carolina and Purple Heart recipient, sued the federal government for $10 million after a CT scan was misread, or perhaps not read at all—resulting in him developing stage four terminal lung cancer, according to reporting from WJZY-TV in Tampa.

Stayskal’s original CT scan was taken at a military facility after he complained of not being able to breathe due to a bullet that hit his left lung while in combat. He told WJZY-TV the physicians didn’t say anything and sent him home. After continued breathing problems, military physicians performed a “retrospective review” of his earlier CT scan and found an abnormality, which lead to a transbronchial biopsy, according to the report.

Eventually, after another misdiagnosis of pneumonia, continued delay in care due to new patients not being “a priority,” and a new CT scan performed by a civilian physician, Stayskal found out he had metastasized cancer and hired an attorney to sue for medical malpractice.

"It was completely obvious," board-certified radiologist, Louis Leskosky, MD, told WJZY-TV. "A first-year resident would have seen this. I can't fathom how any experienced radiologist missing this case." Leskosky has reviewed the scans and was hired by Stayskal’s attorneys to testify in court. He called the situation “a case of gross malpractice,” in the report.

But Stayskal’s suit is unlikely to go to court because of Feres Doctorine, a 1950 Supreme Court decision, that prevents military personnel from suing the military and the federal government “for injuries incidental to military service.”

To read the story on WJZY-TV’s website, click the link below.