Lisa Cash brought her six-year-old daughter Wynter Przybylski to a walk-in clinic at the Penobscot Community Health Center, a public healthcare provider in Bangor, Maine, in 2014 complaining of an illness. Two different members of the medical staff determined she was experiencing severe constipation; however, the problem persisted for several days and her mother described her appearance as looking like she was pregnant. As her condition worsened, she was airlifted to Maine Medical Center in Portland and diagnosed with acute leukemia that has resulted in an enlarged spleen and liver, as well as a clot which had formed adjacent to her spine.
The Maine Medical Center has a Cancer Institute that they claim is recognized nationally. At Maine Medical, her abdominal region was examined and a correct diagnosis was affirmed. The delayed assessment and treatment allowed for leukemia cells to gather and prevent blood flow to her lower extremities, causing her to be paralyzed and likely need usage of a wheelchair for the remainder of her life. Several years later, the girl received a transplant of bone marrow which cured her of leukemia. The federal government maintains medical malpractice insurance for the Penobscot Health Center where the misdiagnosis occurred. Judge John Woodcock of a U.S District Court recently approved a settlement agreement where Przybylski will receive $1.9 million in compensation that will fund a trust to be used to support her financially.
Her much-needed settlement funds will be used to purchase a van equipped with a wheelchair lift that allows her to more easily enter the vehicle. She also will obtain a device that assists in moving in and out of bed and a ramp for entry to her home. She is still expected to remain wheelchair-bound in the future and will require other mobility equipment. Wynter’s parents say that she is beginning to adapt to her new reality and coming to grips with her limitations. Stephanie Shapiro, a registered nurse from Falmouth, works with her now four days a week for ten hours a day. Part of Shapiro’s job is to ensure the girl ingests enough nutrients, as she has a limited appetite as a result of the chemotherapy treatment. Much of Wynter’s care is covered by Maine Care based on her classification as a child with a disability.
Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Przybylski will have $750,000 placed in an annuity that will pay her $1,100 a month for the remainder of her life. $600,000 is allocated for a “special-needs trust” which funds certain necessities and $70,000 for medical expense reimbursement. In addition, the court is approving roughly $470,000 for attorney fees. Her attorney Christian Foster stated that the medical error will prevent her from doing things that no amount of money can truly compensate for. Foster said that the settlement is among one of Maine’s larger medical malpractice awards, although many are not disclosed for purposes of confidentiality.
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