Medical Negligence - Blindness from untreated sinus infection
The victim of this medical malpractice case was age 17 when she went to her pediatrician’s office with severe headaches. She had an elevated white blood cell count and other laboratory evidence of infection. No imaging of the head was done.
Eleven days later, plaintiff was still feeling ill and sought treatment at a local Emergency Department for neck and abdominal pain. She was discharged with a prescription for analgesics.
Two days later, plaintiff returned to the Emergency Department with complaints of severe throbbing headaches, severe photophobia (sensitivity to light), nausea, vomiting, decreased intake and lethargy. Plaintiff was seen by defendant; his assessment was dehydration and migraine headache. Plaintiff was admitted to the hospital for observation. No imaging tests were done.
The following morning, the plaintiff was noted to have periorbital swelling (swelling around the eyes), bilateral ptosis (drooping of the eyelids), and worsening symptoms. She saw several consultants, and was emergently transferred that afternoon to a Boston area teaching hospital for a presumed orbital abscess in the left eye. Magnetic resonance imaging of the head demonstrated sinusitis and bilateral cavernous sinus thrombosis. Her course was further complicated by meningitis and stroke. The plaintiff was left with significant medical problems, including blindness in the left eye and hearing loss.
Claim was brought against her pediatrician who failed to order appropriate head imaging tests which would have revealed an acute sinus infection, which would have been easily treated with IV antibiotics. Plaintiff was prepared to prove the as a result of the negligence of the defendant, plaintiff’s sphenoid sinusitis (sinus infection) advanced to bacterial meningitis, leading to her stroke and loss of vision.
This case was settled for the full amount of the pediatrician’s insurance liability limits. The insurance company for the pediatrician recognize that this injury affected every aspect of this young woman’s life. She was hit with this injury at a time when she was preparing to graduate from high school and go on to college. She would have been the first person in her family to attend college. Because of her stroke and blindness in one eye, her ability to complete her high school education was impaired. While she eventually did graduate from high school, she was unable to maintain the focus and attention necessary to complete college courses. The defendant insurance company recognized that this was a life altering and profound injury for this lovely young woman whose life was derailed by the negligence of her pediatrician in whose trust and care she placed her well-being.
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