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$2 Million Settlement for Emergency Room’s Failure to Diagnose Meningitis

Amount: $2,000,000
Court: Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas

Plaintiff sustained brain damage due to failure to timely diagnose meningitis. On November 13, 1994, our client, a minor, became acutely ill with a high fever and was seen at a local emergency room. The minor, four months old at the time, was suffering from a fever, constant crying, cough and congestion. He was first triaged to an area for less seriously ill patients before he was sent to the emergency room for evaluation because of the fever. A variety of tests were ordered, including blood culture, CBC with differential, electrolytes and chest x-ray. A blood culture was ordered to determine if a bacterial infection was present. Usually results are not available for 36-48 hours. The standard of medical care is to treat infants with antibiotics pending the final results of the cultures, usually 48 hours, based on the seriousness of a possible bacterial blood infection. No antibiotics were administered pending the results of these tests. This is despite the fact that the infant had an elevated white blood count which was clearly abnormal and indicative of a bacterial infection. Despite this, the baby was discharged home at 12:20 a.m on November 14, 1994. The minor’s parents followed up the next morning by bringing the minor to his attending pediatrician who immediately admitted the infant to the hospital. The minor was begun on IV antibiotics for a presumptive diagnosis of sepsis, and then transferred to a tentiary level hospital that evening diagnosed with pneumococcal meningits and pneumococcal septicemia. As a result of the failure to diagnose and appropriately treat the bacterial pneumococcal meningitis, our client became severely neurologically devastated and severly disabled.

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