DEARBORN, Mich. (WXYZ) — Mariah Martinez was just 9 years old in 2003, when she went to Oakwood Healthcare in Dearborn for headaches.
She was diagnosed with epilepsy, and for the next four years would take anti-convulsant medication. However, she never had epilepsy.
A Wayne County circuit court jury on Monday awarded Martinez $3,024,000, coming to the conclusion that the doctor she saw was negligent, and Oakwood Healthcare was also negligent in it’s supervision of the pediatrician.
McKeen Associates Attorney Brian McKeen, who represents Martinez, says Dr. Yasser Awaad prematurely ordered EEG’s, then made the epilepsy diagnoses and prescribed Martinez Lamictal, which left herfatigued from 2003 - 2007.
“She was never allowed to have a normal childhood,” McKeen said.
Mckeen believes his client should have never been in a position to be misdiagnosed by Awaad if warnings were not overlooked.
According to McKeen, a parent got a different diagnoses by a different hospital in 2001 after Awaad diagnosed their child with epilepsy as well. Then later that year, a coworker of Awaad’s came forward.
“A developmental pediatrician blew the whistle on Dr. Awaad,” McKeen said. “She told Oakwood administrators that she thought he was doing an excessive amount of EEG’s, he was diagnosing children with epilepsy that didn't have it and he was prescribing prescription drugs they didn't need.”
Beaumont Hospital, who took over Oakwood Healthcare, released this statement in response to the verdict:
While we respect the jury's verdict, we disagree with the outcome and will appeal this decision. The litigation involving Dr. Yasser Awaad, and Oakwood Healthcare, dates back more than a decade to 2007. While we cannot comment about the specifics of this case because of other pending legal proceedings and patient privacy laws, we believe patients were treated appropriately and disagree with allegations of improper oversight of Dr. Awaad by Oakwood Healthcare.
McKeen says Martinez is just the first of more than 200 people expected to bring similar cases against Awaad.
“We had evidence in this case that Dr. Awaad had labeled 1,751 EEG’s on 251 children as showing seizure activity where as in fact they were all stone cold normal,” McKeen said.
An appeal date has not yet been set.