Posted On: January 24, 2012 by Andrew G. Slutkin

7-Year-Old Left Blind as a Result of Untreated Bacterial Meningitis

A Hartford, Connecticut boy's family has filed a medical malpractice suit against his pediatrician, alleging that the doctor's failure to timely diagnose the child's bacterial meningitis lead to the 7-year-old losing his eyesight.

The boy went to his pediatrician complaining of severe headaches. However, this symptom went unnoticed and he was diagnosed with an ear infection, the first of several medical errors. He returned to the doctor when his condition did not improve but was sent away by a receptionist who said there was nothing more the office could do for him. When the child was finally sent for a CT scan, he was only diagnosed with a migraine. This was yet another medical mistake in the young boy’s care. This several day delay in diagnosis allowed the condition to worsen, and the infection to spread.

Bacterial meningitis is a potentially fatal condition where the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord become inflamed as result of a bacterial infection. The CDC has stated that early diagnosis is critical to the successful treatment of bacterial meningitis.

The child ultimately was not properly diagnosed with bacterial meningitis until he fell into a coma. When he awoke weeks later, he was blind. The child also suffered from fever, respiratory failure, impaired speech, impaired hearing, seizures and brain damage, the combination of which required that the 7-year-old undergo extensive rehabilitation.

The lawyer representing the pediatrician and her office characterized the suit as a false allegation and maintained that the doctor did nothing wrong. However, the child's attorney disputed that the "standard of care" afforded to the child was proper. In this case, all the symptoms were there, and the doctor just missed them; had the pediatrician sent the boy to an emergency room, a spinal tap would have revealed the meningitis, allowing antibiotics to stop the disease before it took his eyesight.

A copy of the article regarding the lawsuit can be found here.

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