Brain Injury to 12-year Boy: $3.75M Settlement

2015 Medical Malpractice Trial Report

Boy suffered a cardiopulmonary arrest 2 days after presenting at the emergency department — and subsequent brain damage.

On the evening of 7/3/06, the plaintiff, a 12-year-old boy, began to have difficulty breathing. Because he had a history of asthma, his mother gave him a nebulizer treatment. However, it did not help his symptoms much so his mother took him to the emergency department the following morning on 7/4/06. At the time of arrival, the records show that the plaintiff’s mother told the triage nurse that she was concerned about a large lump on the side of his neck and an increased cough. There was nothing mentioned in the records about difficulty breathing but his mother testified under oath that she told them he was having trouble breathing.

The plaintiff was seen and evaluated by the defendant Nurse Practitioner and the defendant Emergency Room physician. They both documented that they performed a physical exam, a nebulizer treatment was given and the plaintiff was diagnosed with a swollen and infected throat. The plaintiff was discharged without any blood work being performed and no imaging of his chest was done.

Over the next 2 days, the plaintiff continued to have difficulty breathing. On the evening of 7/6/06, the plaintiff was unable to breath and his mother called 911. He suffered a cardiopulmonary arrest on his way to the hospital. Once there, a chest x-ray revealed a large cancerous mass in his chest. This mass was compressing his airway which prevented him from breathing. As a result of his cardiac arrest, the plaintiff was without oxygen for an extended period of time and suffered a significant brain injury.

Today, the plaintiff is 20 years old and cancer free. However, he is wheelchair bound with cognitive deficiencies, bowel and bladder incontinence, vocal cord paralysis and vision loss.

The plaintiff presented expert testimony at trial that the defendants were required to order a chest x-ray in a child who presented with difficulty breathing and a mass on the side of his neck. It was undisputed that a chest x-ray would have shown the mass if it had been performed.

The defendant presented expert testimony that the defendants did everything they were expected to do and that nobody would have suspected a chest mass with his presentation. The defendants also disputed that they had ever been made aware of any difficulty breathing.

The case settled for $3,750,000 on the day of closing arguments after 7 days of trial.

Lubin & Meyer attorney Robert M. Higgins represented the plaintiff in this medical malpractice lawsuit.

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