Infection Death Lawsuit Settlement Is $1.2 Million

2011 Medical Malpractice Trial Report

Wrongful death: Failure to treat bacterial infection in 10-year-old girl

On 10/29/05, the decedent, a 10-year-old girl with Down’s syndrome, was brought to the emergency room complaining of constant abdominal pain, vomiting, and increased diarrhea. Upon physical examination by the defendant physician, the child was noted to have a temperature of 104.5 and her heart rate was 140. At this point the lab also notified the defendant of a significantly elevated white blood cell count of 21.1. Despite these findings, the defendant ER doctor did not treat the child for an infection. Instead, the defendant re-evaluated the child a few hours later and admitted her to the hospital for intravenous fluids. She also noted that she would wait to order antibiotics to see if the child’s condition improved over time.

At 10:40 pm, the defendant pediatrician took over the child’s care and examined her for the first time. The defendant noted the diagnosis of a viral gastroenteritis but indicated she had a significant concern that this was a bacterial infection. Despite this concern, the defendant pediatrician decided to hold off giving antibiotics until she obtained another urine culture. That urine culture was never obtained.

At 5:30 am, the child began breathing very fast and her heart rate was 150-160s. The decedent was in septic shock and was immediately given antibiotics at this point as it was clear she was suffering a bacterial infection. Despite aggressive resuscitation efforts, she continued to deteriorate and ultimately died at 11:25 am. An autopsy was performed and showed that the child died from streptococcal toxic shock syndrome from Group A streptococcus.

The plaintiffs were prepared to offer expert medical testimony that the defendants were negligent in their failure to recognize that the decedent was suffering from a bacterial infection which needed to be treated by antibiotics. The plaintiffs expected that the evidence would show that the child had a very treatable bacterial infection if antibiotics had been ordered.

The defendants were expected to present expert medical testimony that the child most likely had a viral infection that eventually developed into a bacterial infection at the end of the illness. They were expected to offer testimony that this child had a very aggressive bacteria that most likely would not have been successfully treated even if antibiotics had been given earlier in the child’s hospitalization.

The case settled at mediation for $1,200,000. (Suffolk Superior Court)

Lubin & Meyer represented the plaintiff in this infection death lawsuit.

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