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Meningitis Missed In ER And By Pediatrician Results In $7.8 Million Settlement

Martin & Jones retained more than 20 of the foremost experts in pediatric infectious disease, neurology, radiology, nephrology, and emergency medicine to assist with the case of a little girl who suffered profound brain damage due to meningitis which was undiagnosed, even though her mother repeatedly took her to the emergency room and her pediatrician. An 8-month-old girl developed a high fever, became fussy and had a high-pitched cry late on a Friday evening. Unable to be seen at her pediatrician’s office, the little girl was taken to the emergency room Saturday afternoon. An ear infection was diagnosed and an antibiotic prescribed. Her pediatrician was telephoned and notified. The little girl was much worse on Sunday, and the mother paged the pediatrician several times. When he finally called her back, the pediatrician told the mom that the child did not need to be seen that day (a Sunday) and told her to take the little girl to the office on Monday. Instead, the mother took her daughter back to the ER Sunday evening. Had the hospital staff reviewed the chart from the night before, they would have seen that the child had lost almost 10 percent of her body weight in less than 24 hours, but that record was not reviewed. An ER nurse called the pediatrician and put him on the phone with the mother. He again told the mother to bring the child to the office the following morning, and the mother and daughter were sent home without ever seeing a doctor.

On Monday morning the mother again took the little girl to the pediatrician, but he ignored the mother’s concerns, gave no further treatment, and told the mother to “let the virus run its course.” The following day, four days after the mother first took to the ER for help, she took her daughter back to the pediatrician’s office without an appointment, and by that time it was clear that the child was critically ill. The child was then found to have meningitis, an unusual type of kidney failure (HUS) and resulting sepsis. The child was left with severe permanent brain injury and blindness. The case was settled after three mediations for $7.8 million. The settlement proceeds provided for all necessary medical care, therapy, and allowed the mother to provide a handicapped-accessible home, van and necessary attendant care.

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