Medical Negligence - Failure to diagnose meningitis; wrongful death
This medical malpractice physician negligence case was brought on behalf of the mother of a seventeen year old Boston youth who was misdiagnosed with migraine headaches when he was actually suffering from bacterial meningitis. The claim was brought for wrongful death and conscious pain and suffering of the child.
In December 1999, the 17-year old young man, who was an outstanding student and leader in the organization Bikes Not Bombs developed severe headaches. He went to his pediatrician’s office and was seen by a doctor who was not his regular pediatrician. That physician recommended he return the following day to see his regular pediatrician of twelve years.
He returned to the clinic the next day and saw his pediatrician and gave a history of four days of severe headaches that were constant with lethargy. The defendant doctor, based on a brief examination, diagnosed the patient as suffering from migraine headaches without performing the proper examination to rule out more serious causes.
One week later, the young man returned to the defendant physician with complaints of severe headaches, vomiting, photophobia and lethargy. The doctor committed medical malpractice when he failed to rule out these new symptoms which were not consistent with a diagnosis of migraine headache. The defendant physician negligently prescribed anti-migraine medication and recommended the patient see a neurologist in two days.
The patient returned home and was found the following morning dead in his bedroom. The medical examiner determined that the cause of death was bacterial meningitis.
Plaintiff claimed that the defendant physician was negligent for failing to perform appropriate tests which would have diagnosed the bacterial meningitis. Specifically, the standard of care required that the defendant physician perform a brain CT scan which would have revealed the meningitis and prevented the death of this young man. The case settled right before the start of trial.