HMO To Pay Disabled Girl $3M Over Misdiagnosis

Published by The Boston Herald, November 1, 1996

A Massachusetts health-care provider will pay $3 million to a severely disabled 6-year-old girl whose premature birth stems from a doctor misdiagnosing her mother’s appendicitis.

Harvard Community Health Plan agreed Wednesday evening to settle a malpractice suit brought on behalf of Merridith Wyatt of Lincoln, R.I.

The settlement came moments after a Suffolk Superior Court jury was empaneled to hear the case.

"It seems like a lot of money but I would give every penny to have her whole and healthy," said little Merridith’s mother, Gabriella Halmi.

Halmi’s appendix burst and poisoned her unborn baby in 1990, one day after an obstetrician allegedly mistook the former Somerville resident’s abdominal pains for the flu.

"They told her not to worry about it," said Halmi’s attorney, Andrew C. Meyer Jr. "They told her she had a stomach bug and sent her home. "

Halmi said Merridith was born with blood poisoning and a hole in her heart, and two days after birth she experienced bleeding in her brain which led to hydrocephalus, or water on the brain.

"But she’s a fighter, and that’s why she lived," said Halmi, who in 1992 founded the Hydrocephalus Association of Rhode Island, a nonprofit group support group for sufferers of the brain abnormality.

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