doctors failure to treat meningitis results in boys blindness

Seven-year-old Adam was a normal boy who loved playing soccer and being active. Now, Adam is learning Braille and relearning how to walk, talk and eat. Moreover, according to the lawsuit Adam’s parents filed, none of that would have happened if Adam’s doctor hadn’t failed to diagnose meningitis.

Meningitis is the inflammation of the membranes that line the spinal cord and brain. If it is not treated promptly, it can cause severe disabilities because of the swelling and hemorrhaging of the brain and spinal cord tissue. Sadly, numerous people throughout Pennsylvania suffer because doctors fail to promptly diagnose the disease.

When Adam’s mom first took him to the doctor, he complained of a severe headache. The pediatrician said Adam had an ear infection and did little to address his pain.

During the next few days, Adam’s condition worsened, and his parents called the doctor to schedule another appointment. However, the receptionist told them there was nothing the doctor could do, since Adam had been there just a few days earlier.

Another doctor reported that, “The standard of care requires that a nurse or physician assess the status of the patient, not the receptionist, and make a determination if and when re-evaluation is necessary.” He also noted that Adam was in so much pain from his headache that it limited the first doctor’s ability to perform a neurological exam. Even so, the doctor did little to treat his headache.

A few days later, Adam was rushed to the general hospital and airlifted to a children’s medical center. There, the doctors diagnosed him with bacterial meningitis. Adam spent several weeks in a coma, and when he finally woke up, he was blind. According to the family’s lawsuit, Adam also suffered systemic bacterial infection, fever, respiratory failure, impaired speech, impaired hearing, seizures and brain damage.

When a patient complains of symptoms, it is the doctor’s job to ensure he or she does a thorough examination to determine what is causing the pain. Because this pediatrician failed to do that, he stole a young boy’s eyesight and permanently changed the boy’s life.

Source: Hartford Courant, “Lawsuit Charges That Tolland Boy Lost His Eyesight After Doctor Failed To Diagnose Meningitis,” Denise Buffa, Jan. 17, 2012

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