Misdiagnosis Leaves Child Brain-Damaged May 9, 2013.

When a mystery illness strikes a child, a worried parent reasonably expects a doctor to diagnose the problem.

It was 2005 when the plaintiff took her young daughter to a pediatrics center to see her regular doctor. That physician was not available and another doctor looked at the plaintiff’s daughter. The mother was concerned about her daughter’s fever, headache and sore neck. The new doctor, who had only just completed her medical residency, diagnosed allergies, and sent the child home with allergy medication.

According to trial records, the plaintiff asked the defendant if there were other tests that could be done, as she did not think her child was having allergy issue. Apparently, the doctor said no further tests were necessary. Still concerned, the mother asked the physician to take a blood sample, just in case her daughter might have meningitis, an inflammation of the brain tissue caused by an infection in the brain. Classical symptoms include a stiff neck, headaches and fever. Untreated, it may lead to permanent brain damage and/or death. The doctor supposedly ruled out that possibility.

Two days later, the plaintiff discovered her daughter having a seizure and rushed her to the hospital. Emergency physicians informed the mother her child had meningitis, had a stroke and was in a coma. Three weeks later, the child woke up at a different hospital with severe brain damage. She is no longer able to speak, eat or walk and will need to re-learn all of these skills in order to function as best as she can. It is expected that she will never have full adult functioning and will need care for the rest of her life. Calculations relating to the child’s life expectancy and cost of medical care amounted to approximately $14 million.

Further evidence included in the case showed that the child’s medical file had a notation in it made by the defendant doctor that said she suspected the child had viral meningitis. Despite her suspicions, she did nothing further and did not order a spinal tap. Due to the negligence of the defendant doctor, the child has ended up with severe brain damage.

This medical malpractice lawsuit is about many things, not the least of which is compensation for the child to care for her for the rest of her life and hold the doctor responsible for her negligence. It is also about sending a message to raise awareness about viral meningitis and for people to insist on a spinal tap if they suspect they may have the disease. What begins as a lawsuit founded in medical malpractice may have other repercussions in the future, particularly if the case acts as a warning to another doctor faced with similar symptoms in a patient, and that doctor then goes the extra mile to diagnose a suspected disease correctly.

If you are faced with a situation in which you feel you have been the victim of medical malpractice, you need to speak to a skilled Cleveland medical malpractice lawyer. Not all bad medical outcomes are classified as malpractice and you need to know if you have a case before proceeding. Only a Cleveland medical malpractice lawyer can evaluate your case.