PORTLAND, Maine —A Maine woman who developed cervical cancer despite undergoing regular examinations has received a $10 million award in what could be the largest medical malpractice case in state history.
Ruth Hricko had regular pap-smear screenings, pelvic exams and tests, her attorney Owen Pickus said. But a jury found that a lab technician from Central Maine Medical Center misread the screenings and Hricko had abnormal cells as far back as 2009.
If the technician had found the abnormal cells in 2009, an outpatient procedure would have given Hricko a 100 percent chance of recovery, Pickus said.
In 2010, Hricko could've had a hysterectomy, which would have given her a 95 percent chance of recovery, Pickus said.
In 2011, another specialist found the cancer, which was clearly visible at that point. With treatment, she had less than a 50 percent chance of surviving the stage 3 cancer, Pickus said.
Hricko's cancer is now in remission, but that's little consolation, Pickus said.
"No one can give her back her colon. No one can give her back the injuries to her private parts. No one can give her back her small bowel if it comes out. No one can give her back her brain function injured by chemotherapy. None of those things can be fixed," he said.
"It became so painful that I couldn't even sit down," Hricko said in 2013. "Actually, I was probably sitting on the tumor and I didn't realize it."
Hricko was unavailable Wednesday because she and Pickus were preparing in case Central Maine Medical Center appeals.
Hospital officials did not respond to requests for a comment.