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Failure to Diagnose Shunt Malfunction Resulting in Quadriplegia Settles for $3.5 Million

Amount: $3,500,000
Plaintiff’s Counsel: Jonathan D. Mester

Plaintiff was born on September 8, 1986. Shortly after her birth, she suffered from bacterial meningitis which resulted in permanent hearing loss. Also associated with the bacterial meningitis, was hydrocephalus, which is essentially water in the brain. The hydrocephalus was treated with a shunt which periodically malfunctioned and she had multiple shunt replacements.

On May 11, 2000, she presented to the emergency room with headaches, sleeping a lot, difficultly walking, not eating, and had not been to school for several days. The emergency room physician suspected hydrocephalus and ordered a CT scan of the brain. The radiologist orally and later in writing reported to the physician that the ventricles were significantly larger than in January of that year. The emergency room physician discharged the patient with a diagnosis of sinus cephalgia and hydrocephalus. The standard of care in such a situation was for the emergency room physician to either admit the patient or contact a neurosurgeon as the treatment decision would be neurosurgical, i.e., replacement of the shunt. This was not done. Two days later, plaintiff went to a different facility where a shunt malfunction was diagnosed and was then sent to a full service children’s hospital for care. Unfortunately, in the process, she suffered a herniation of the brain resulting in quadriplegia. Her condition is permanent and she will need care for the rest of her life.

This matter was settled in a mediation prior to trial in the amount of $3.5 million.

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