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Doctor reprimanded for misdiagnosis

A Hayward, Wis., emergency room doctor has had a reprimand added to her Minnesota license because of an action taken in Wisconsin.

Dr. Dorothy A. Novak, 63, was reprimanded by the Wisconsin Medical Examining Board on March 20 because of an incident April 8, 2012.

According to the board’s findings:

An 86-year-old woman came to the ER that day complaining of three days of abdominal pain with constipation, fever, nausea and vomiting. Novak ordered an enema, which failed to produce significant results. The patient returned to the ER about 11 hours later and after examination by another doctor was flown to another hospital, where she was found to have a large inflammatory mass in her pelvis. She died the next day.

The board ruled that Novak should have diagnosed an obstruction, and that the patient should have been hospitalized for observation. Novak took a continuing education course on acute abdomen presentation and treatment, paid $350 in costs and had her license fully restored May 10.

The Minnesota reprimand occurred Sept. 7. In an interview, Novak said it reflected the action taken in Wisconsin. She said that at one time she practiced in Duluth emergency rooms, but she hasn’t done so for at least 10 years and doesn’t plan to. She keeps her Minnesota license active, and the reprimand appeared when she reapplied this year, she said.

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