Stroke Caused by Undiagnosed Staph Infection: $1.5M Settlement
2015 Medical Malpractice Trial Report
Lawsuit claims nurse practitioner and physician were negligent in not diagnosing and treating staph infection which led to stroke in 26-year-old man
The plaintiff was a 26 year old man who suffered a significant delay in the diagnosis and treatment of a Staph infection which resulted in an embolic stroke and permanent and severe neurological damage. The plaintiff’s past medical history included asthma and substance abuse for which he took Suboxone.
On 10/23/10, the plaintiff presented with complaints of severe left sided back pain (10/10) which had started the night before, and was now radiating down his left leg. His heartrate was elevated but his temperature was normal. He was evaluated by the defendant nurse practitioner who noted no changes in his bowel or bladder and no saddle anesthesia.
On exam, the defendant noted skin eruptions on the plaintiff’s thighs and around his mouth. She documented that he had thought the rash was pimples and squeezed them. She noted an increased pulse of 140 with a decrease to 84 at the end of her exam. The plaintiff was tender and tight over his left lumbar level L4-5 and S-1 paraspinal muscles, but the neurological exam was normal. The impression was an acute left lumbar strain due to carrying a heavy backpack. The plaintiff was instructed to apply ice to his lumbar area, and was discharged with pain medications.
On 10/26/10, the plaintiff returned with complaints of low left lumbar pain radiating down his left thigh to the level of his knee. His blood pressure was 88/60, his pulse was 148, his temperature was 97.9, and his oxygen saturation was 93%. He was examined by his PCP who noted tenderness on the lateral edge of his left 4/5 lumbar vertebrae. An x-ray showed a normal lumbar spine. The doctor’s impression was a muscular spasm.
On 10/28/10, the plaintiff was found unresponsive in his bed at home and was admitted to a hospital. He was started on antibiotics for suspicion of an underlying infection. Blood cultures returned positive for Staph aureus. Thoracic and lumbar MRI revealed extensive soft tissue inflammatory/infectious change around the left sacroiliac joint and small pockets of fluid located near the joint. The plaintiff was diagnosed with Staph aureus sepsis which was most likely due to the abscesses found near his left SI joint. He was started on intravenous antibiotics.
On 10/31/10, the plaintiff developed left-sided weakness. A head CT scan demonstrated a large left middle cerebral artery (MCA) stroke with a 5 mm shift. He was given mannitol IV underwent a decompressive hemicraniectomy.
The plaintiff claimed that the nurse practitioner and physician were negligent in not diagnosing and treating the staph infection earlier which would have prevented the stroke. The defendants denied liability and further contended the stroke was not due to anything they did or failed to do.
The case settled shortly before trial for $1,500,000.
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