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Native American activist dies from esophageal cancer, wife sues

On Behalf of | Jul 3, 2014 | Failure To Diagnose |

North Carolina activists may be interested to learn that the widow of a man who was the former leader of the American Indian Movement sued a New Mexico hospital for malpractice. According to the report, the widow of Russell Means claimed that a New Mexico hospital failed to diagnose her husband’s esophageal cancer in 2011.

The complaint claimed that her husband visited Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center, located in Santa Fe, after he began to spit up blood and began to have trouble swallowing. Doctors allegedly reassured Means that his condition was not cancer. The activist was diagnosed at a later time; however, by the time he was properly diagnosed, the cancer had spread to the rest of his body. He died in 2012 at the age of 72.

The hospital denied any wrongdoing in the case. Representatives for the hospital stated that the New Mexico Medical Review commission reviewed the case, with the commission determining in a vote of 6-0 that there was no negligence on the part of the hospital. It was not stated what the man’s widow was seeking in the form of damages.

Means, an Oglala Lakota, began protesting the use of images of Native Americans as mascots for sports teams in the 1960s. In 1973, he became nationally-known after being involved in a 72-day stand-off at Wounded Knee on a South Dakota Reservation.

When there is a failure to diagnose a potentially life-threatening condition, the consequences can be severe. If a loved one dies as a result of a misdiagnoses, family members of the deceased person may be eligible to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the doctor who failed to diagnose their loved one and the healthcare facility. In most cases, the plaintiff is usually seeking compensation for medical bills and loss of companionship.

Source: Reuters, “Widow of American Indian activist sues doctors over his death”, Keith Coffman, June 26, 2014