Healthcare News & Insights

Doctor sued for misdiagnosing pediatric epilepsy patients

Everyone’s looking to make a little more scratch these days. Misdiagnosing and over-treating children isn’t the best way to do it.

But Dr. Yasser Awaad is accused of doing just that, in a lawsuit that involves hundreds of his former patients.

Awaad, a pediatric neurologist, practiced in the Detroit area from 1994 to 2007. His most recent post was at the Oakwood Hospital in Dearborn, Michigan. Records indicate that in 2005, his base salary was $250k — but he earned another $350k that year for “bringing business to the hospital.”

A lawsuit claims that much of the extra business came about because Awaad was routinely misdiagnosing patients with epilepsy. According to the Detroit Free Press, medical records for more than 200 patients show their brain scans were normal — and don’t match Awaad’s patient records.

Oakwood Hospital is also named in the suit. Lawyers for the patients claim that other doctors brought their concerns about Awaad’s diagnoses to hospital officials, but Oakwood did nothing. For its part, Oakwood says it has no reason to question Awaad’s work, noting that diagnosis and treatment of seizure disorders is done on “an individualized basis.”

Awaad closed his practice and moved to Saudi Arabia in 2007, not long after a state health department investigation began.

Effects on the patients

Children who were allegedly misdiagnosed by Awaad paid a steeper price than just going to a few extra doctor appointments.

One patient was three years old when he was diagnosed with epilepsy — incorrectly, according to the lawsuit. Now nine, he suffers from memory problems caused by the anti-seizure medication Awaad prescribed for him. Other former patients complain about side effects such as chronic fatigue — without ever getting relief from the headaches and other symptoms that brought them to Awaad’s practice in the first place.

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