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Our client had been suffering from a fever, headache, and sinus pain for a few days. He presented to the Emergency Department with complaints of a severe headache, neck, and sinus pain. He did not have a temperature, altered mental state, nor did he have nuchal rigidity. His labs were unremarkable except for some elevation in his neutrofils. A head CT scan was consistent with sinus infection, and he was discharged home. 36 hours later, he was brought back by EMS to the Emergency Department with symptoms of late-stage bacterial meningitis, sepsis, hypotension, and seizures which resulted in brain death.
Defendant argued that he was correctly diagnosed at the first Emergency Department visit with sinus infection; since signs and symptoms for bacterial meningitis were not present, the standard of care did not require a lumbar puncture; and even if a lumbar puncture had been performed, it would not have been abnormal at that time.