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Misdiagnosis Caused the Death of a Child

A medical malpractice/wrongful death case concerned a misdiagnosis that caused the Death of a Child. The death of any child is a tragedy. When that death is caused by the mistake or wrongdoing of a trusted medical provider, that tragedy is compounded.Misdiagnosis caused death of child -- Altizer Law PC

A three-and-one-half year old child was taken to the office of her pediatrician. Her complaints were vomiting and high fever. The child was seen by the nurse practitioner (NP) in the practice. The diagnosis was gastroenteritis, and the child was prescribed fluids and Tylenol. The child was then sent home wile running a fever of 103.3 degrees.

The NP failed to note the child’s blood pressure, respiratory rate, or pulse rate in the chart. She did, however, note swollen lymph nodes and that the child was not experiencing diarrhea. These observations should have precluded the gastroenteritis diagnosis. She performed a flu screen but did not perform the standard follow-up when the flu screen returned with a negative finding. The NP did not order a rapid strep test or urinalysis.

Several hours after leaving the pediatrician’s office, the child was taken to the hospital emergency room. At this time the complaint had expanded to include shortness of breath, cough, congestion, tachycardia, hypoxia, dehydration and lethargy. At this time, the child was diagnosed with pneumonia, acute respiratory distress, neutropenia hypoxemia and sepsis and was admitted to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). The prescribed treatment was antibiotics and intravenous fluids.

A few hours after being admitted to the hospital, the child was transferred to a regional medical center. During the transfer, the child suffered cardiopulmonary arrest while she was being placed on a ventilator for the transport. She suffered arrest again upon arrival at the medical center. Resuscitation was performed for several hours until spontaneous circulation could not be restored. An autopsy revealed that the child died of sepsis and shock from a Group A Beta-Hemolytic Streptococcal Infection.

Had the nurse practitioner (in the pediatrician’s office) conducted a proper examination and ordered the appropriate tests, she would have begun antibiotic treatment. Had her assessment and treatment followed standards of care, the antibiotics would have prevented the progression of the infection and the child would have lived.

The case was settled out of court for $950,000 to the child’s family.

This child’s death was, like many other medical malpractice/wrongful death cases, due to the failure of the NP to follow standards of care and failure to conduct the indicated tests.

Medical malpractice/wrongful death can happen to anyone for any of a number of reasons. Ultimately, whether due to fatigue, distraction, or negligence, these cases often result in serious injury or death.

If you or a loved one is harmed due to the negligence of a medical provider, you may have the basis of a medical malpractice lawsuit. If you believe this has happened to you, call Altizer Law, P.C. Bettina Altizer and her team have helped those harmed and their families for 30 years. They have the knowledge, experience and expertise to obtain justice and to recover the largest possible financial settlement for your damages allowed under Virginia law. Bettina is well known for her determination and tenacity. It has made her one of the area’s most trusted medical malpractice attorneys.