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Delay in Diagnosis of Bacterial Meningitis Results in Eight-Figure Jury Verdict

A Philadelphia jury last week awarded more than $10 million to a now-six year-old boy and his family against a hospital and its physicians who delayed significantly in diagnosing the child’s bacterial meningitis.

The boy – at the time just 11 months old – was taken to the emergency room on December 21, 2009 with a fever and other symptoms that had been persistent over a number of days. He was diagnosed with an upper respiratory infection and sent home. When his symptoms worsened overnight, the boy was returned to the hospital with an even higher fever, an elevated respiratory rate and an elevated heart rate. According to the plaintiffs’ experts, at this critical juncture the standards of acceptable medical care required that the boy be tested for a bacterial infection. However, he was again sent home with no such test was administered.

Upon arriving at the emergency room for a third time, it took hours for blood work to be completed and even longer for medical personnel to administer the antibiotics necessary to combat the infection. By then, the child had suffered significant, irreversible brain damage. Now almost seven years old chronologically, the child is functioning at the developmental level of a three year-old. At trial, the defense took the position that with conservative treatment at the hospital during the first two visits, the boy’s symptoms – which they believed to be consistent with mere bronchitis – seemed to subside, indicating that such conservative treatment was working and leading them to believe discharging him was appropriate. The jury’s $10.1 million award was comprised of $1.5 million for future medical care, $1.1 million for loss of earning capacity and $7.5 million for pain, suffering and mental anguish.

Our Maryland medical malpractice attorneys have significant experience litigating cases involving the failure to timely diagnose and treat emergent medical conditions such as infection. If you or a loved one may have been the victim of a medical mistake, call us today at (410) 385-2225.