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$8.5 Million Award For Poor Medical Care

EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. (CN) - A federal judge awarded $8.5 million to a woman who lost the use of her right arm due to subpar medical care by an Air Force base doctor. Jean Phillips was a patient of Dr. Daniel Macalpine, an officer at Scott Air Force Base, where her husband was stationed.

Phillips right arm is withered, useless and causes her constant pain as the result of an untreated infection. Judge Phillip Frazier ruled that Dr. Macalpine's failure to diagnose and treat Phillips' infection fell below the applicable standard of care.

"Dr. Macalpine has himself acknowledged, as have all other physicians so queried, that had plaintiff presented with signs of redness, swelling, and tenderness in her arm, the standard of care would have required him to examine and chart the symptoms," Frazier wrote. "He neither examined her symptoms nor charted them. Obviously, he neither diagnosed nor treated the precursor infection. His treatment did not, therefore, meet the standard of care."

Frazier itemized Phillips' award. He awarded her $421,581 for past medical care; $215,040 for future medical care; $495,169 for past and future lost earnings; $3 million for past and future disability; $500,000 for disfigurement and $4 million for past and future suffering and emotional distress.

Frazier painted a bleak picture of Phillips' future in the ruling.

"Plaintiff seems to have the worst of all of it," Frazier wrote. "She cannot use her right arm for anything. She is faced with the choice of either living each day with terrible, unrelenting pain, or drifting through life as a narcotics addict. The sad irony is that her life would be much easier had the arm been lost. She would have had a chance to recover from her narcotics addiction, and a prosthetic arm would work much better for her than the one she has. Plaintiff's chances at a productive, enjoyable life are, at this point, very low."

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