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Failure to diagnose bacterial meningitis leads to $10.1 M award

When New Jersey parents take a child to the hospital because of an unfamiliar medical condition, they typically have confidence in the competence of medical professionals to accurately diagnose and treat the problem. Unfortunately, many children and their parents have to suffer the consequences of a physician's failure to diagnose medical conditions. A family in another state was recently awarded more than $10 million after their child was a victim of such negligence.

The mother took the 11-month-old child to a hospital emergency room a few days before Christmas in 2009 after he was sick for some days. Doctors diagnosed the feverish condition as an infection of the upper respiratory system and let him go home with hardly any treatment. When his condition deteriorated overnight, his mother took him back to the emergency room the next day with an elevated fever, rapid heartbeat and abnormal respiratory rate. In the court, the mother alleged that the physicians failed to test the child for bacterial infection and released him again without treatment.

She asserted that, when she took him back on the third day, a resident physician examined the child after keeping him waiting for over an hour. Blood work indicating that the child had bacterial meningitis was apparently done shortly before midnight, though he did not receive antibiotics until 3 a.m. Sadly, by then he had already suffered severe brain damage. The child, who is almost 7 years old now, suffers from a loss of hearing, language disorder, loss of balance and learning and developmental delays.

The $10.1 million jury verdict includes $1.5 million to assist with medical care for the child, who will reportedly always be functionally illiterate. The balance of the monetary award will cover the loss of future earnings and pain and suffering. New Jersey families facing similar circumstances may benefit from retaining the services of an experienced medical malpractice attorney. Proving failure to diagnose may be tricky, and the legal proceedings going forward may be complicated. However, an experienced lawyer can provide the necessary support and guidance in pursuing claims for monetary compensation.

Source:, "Jury awards $10.1M in malpractice case against CHOP", Chris Mondics, Nov. 19, 2015

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Alan D. Bell
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