$3.6 Million Amputation as a Result of Medical Negligence

On May 6, the Plaintiff’s mother, took her one year old child to the Defendant Pediatrician’s office indicating that the child had experienced temperature spikes up to 105° over the preceding night.  Further, the Plaintiff indicated that the child was constantly pulling at his ears, and suffered with significant nasal congestion.  Based upon the history and physical examination, the Defendant Pediatrician diagnosed the infant Plaintiff with a fever and “consider sepsis” (an infection throughout the blood).  The Defendant Pediatrician ordered a CBC differential/smear, blood culture as well as a urinalysis and urine culture.  These studies were ordered on a stat basis, indicating an emergency.

In accordance with the Defendant’s direction, the family proceeded directly from his office to the Defendant Hospital where the laboratory tests were completed.  Specifically, it is alleged that the Plaintiffs arrived at the Defendant Pathologist’s laboratory located at the Defendant Hospital at approximately 10:30 a.m. for the laboratory test.

After the parents arrived home from the hospital with their baby, the Plaintiffs received a telephone call from the Defendant Pediatrician indicating that the child’s  blood work from the Defendant Pathologist’s laboratory was normal, and that they should not be concerned.  Further, the Defendant Pediatrician advised the Plaintiffs to keep their child hydrated — in essence, to force fluids.

It is alleged, however, that contrary to the Defendant’s representations, the Infant Plaintiff’s laboratory results were significantly abnormal.  In fact, the blood count reflected 27% bands and a clear left shift — essentially confirming the presence of the suspected sepsis.  Under the circumstances, the Defendant Pediatrician knew, or through the exercise of due care should have known, that the laboratory results confirmed the presence of a vigorous infectious process which required immediate diagnosis as well as intervention with appropriate antibiotic therapy.  Contrary to the standards of care, the Defendant indicated that the values were normal when they were not, and no medical diagnosis and/or intervention was provided at that time.

At 4:30 p.m. on the same date, the Plaintiff’s mother telephoned the Defendant Pediatrician’s office and reported that her child’s lips were purple, he was lethargic and was still pulling at his ears.  In view of the laboratory data and the child’s condition, it is alleged that the standards of care required immediate admission to the hospital for appropriate intervention including antibiotic therapy.  Contrary to the standards of care, the Defendant Pediatrician instructed the Infant Plaintiff’s mother to increase his intake of fluids.  No appointment was provided and no admission to the hospital occurred.

At approximately 7:30 p.m., the Infant Plaintiff’s mother again telephoned the Defendant’s office, and spoke with the Defendant Pediatrician #2.  At this time, she indicated that not only were the lips purple, but her child was extremely lethargic and not drinking any fluids.  Again, the standards of care required that the child be seen immediately and be admitted to the hospital for medical intervention including, but not limited to, vigorous antibiotic therapy.  However, directly contrary to the standards of care, Defendant Pediatrician #2 failed to see the patient and failed to have the patient admitted to the hospital.  Instead, it is alleged that the Defendant negligently advised the Plaintiff to continue forcing fluids.

At 8:45 p.m., it is alleged that the Plaintiff’s mother again telephoned these Defendants and indicated that the Infant Plaintiff was vomiting in addition to all of the other signs and symptoms referred to hereinabove.  At that time, the Defendant Pediatrician  #2 finally advised the parents to proceed to the emergency department.

In accordance with the advice of the Defendant Pediatrician #2, the Infant Plaintiff’s parents proceeded to the emergency department with their child where they encountered the Defendant Emergency Room Physician.  By that time, the child’s ears were purple, and he had developed a rash around his nose and on his cheeks.  He was found to be obtunded as well as hypoxic.  There was a negligent delay by the Defendant Hospital nurses in having the Infant Plaintiff timely evaluated. When the emergency physicians asked why the parents had not brought their child in sooner, the parents indicated that they were flabbergasted because they had been advised that the laboratory results were normal and that they should force fluids, although they had contacted the Defendant pediatricians on three separate occasions earlier that same day.

At the time of the emergency room visit, a large abscess was found in Infant Plaintiff’s ear, which would have been diagnosed had these Defendants made an appropriate examination at the time of presentation following the three prior telephone calls.  A spinal tap was performed and was positive for streptococcus pneumoniae.  However, these Defendants negligently delayed the start of antibiotic therapy, and then utilized the wrong dosage.  When antibiotics were finally started, they used Ampicillin when the standards of care required the utilization of Vancomycin — a much more aggressive and efficacious drug for the treatment of the child’s condition.  Additionally, the Defendants were negligent by their delay in drawing blood gas studies, and failed to respond appropriately to the results of the blood gases which confirmed the presence of a metabolic acidosis.

Also, it should be noted that around the time the Infant Plaintiff presented to the emergency room, his blood culture from 10:45 a.m. had grown out positive, setting off an alarm in the lab.  However, because of the negligence of the Defendants Pathologist and the Defendant Hospital, no one was present to hear the alarm and immediately process the culture.  Further, once the alarm was belatedly responded to by a lab tech, there was a negligent delay in processing the blood culture to identify the offending organism.  This delay in identifying the bacteria involved caused a delay in administration of the correct antibiotics.

As the result of these Defendants’ ongoing delay in diagnosing and treating the Infant Plaintiff, there was a negligent delay in transferring the Infant Plaintiff via medivac to another hospital.   Upon arrival, the appropriate drug, Vancomycin, was immediately started.  However, despite aggressive care, the Infant Plaintiff was subjected to repeat surgeries and eventually lost both arms and both legs.  In short, the appropriate care rendered at the other hospital proved too little and too late due to the ongoing negligence of these Defendants.

It is alleged that had these Defendants acted in accordance with the standards of care, appropriate interpretation of the lab values would have occurred with recognition of the ongoing infection.   Additionally, the child would have been admitted immediately with an appropriate diagnosis and institution of Vancomycin therapy which would have eradicated the condition with no permanent injury ensuing.  Further, had these Defendants and each of them responded appropriately to the several telephone calls on the same date, it is alleged that the diagnosis would have been made in a timely fashion with appropriate intervention, and the Plaintiff would have recovered and left the hospital with no permanent injury and/or disability.

However, as the direct and proximate result of the ongoing negligence of these Defendants as described hereinabove, the Plaintiff suffered with septicemia and finally meningitis, ultimately culminating in the amputation of all four limbs — in a last ditch effort to save his life.

It is alleged that the Infant Plaintiff has in the past, is presently and will in the future continue to suffer excruciating physical pain, emotional anguish as well as fear and anxiety over his condition.  He will go through his entire lifespan requiring the assistance of others for his most basic daily needs.  It is alleged that he will not grow and enjoy a normal childhood, adulthood, or take his place as a productive member of society as a normal human being.  It is alleged that his opportunities to seek and/or hold gainful employment have been eradicated through the negligence of these Defendants, and his quality of life has been destroyed.