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Tag Archives: brain damage

$ 3 Million - Meningitis Medical Malpractice - Hospital's Failure to Diagnose

Meningitis is a life-threatening condition. It involves an inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. Meningitis is classified as a medical emergency. When a hospital failed to diagnose a case of Meningitis for a two year old patient, the family turned to New York’s toughest personal injury attorneys. The lawyers successfully proved that the medical negligence caused by hospital error resulted in the girl suffering from hearing loss, mental deficiencies likely due to brain damage and infection. Fortunately, the family was compensated $3,000,000. Read about other failures to diagnose and medical malpractice.

Photo by 4028mdk09 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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Unspotted meningitis caused deafness, child’s mother alleged (VerdictSearch)

Settlement Amount: $3,000,000

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Court: Queens Supreme, Queens County, NY

Injury Type(s): other-meningitis; sensory/speech-hearing; loss of mental/psychological-cognition; impairment

Case Type: Medical Malpractice – Failure to Test, Failure to Diagnose

Date: June 23, 2008

Plaintiff Attorney(s):
Eric H. Morrison; Morrison & Wagner; New York, NY

Facts:

On Nov. 11, 1999, the plaintiff, a 1-year-old girl, was examined by her pediatrician, Dr. Bum Park. The baby was suffering a persistent fever, and Park determined that the fever was a product of tonsillitis. The baby’s mother was told that she could be reexamined when it became necessary.

During the ensuing hours, the girl’s fever reached 104 degrees Fahrenheit, and she began to vomit. She was transported to the emergency room of Elmhurst [N.Y.] Hospital Center. An X-ray revealed a potentially abnormal density of the little girl’s lungs, and doctors suspected that she could have been developing pneumonia. Thus, she was admitted to the hospital. Doctors also suspected that meningitis could have been developing, but they did not detect any abnormalities of the child’s meninges. She was administered an antibiotic.

During the third day of the baby’s hospitalization, a nurse observed that the child’s neck was stiffening. A test confirmed that the patient was suffering nuchal rigity — stiffness of the nape of the neck. Nuchal rigity is one of three symptoms of meningitis. The girl was also suffering a 102-degree fever. Doctors determined that a spinal tap would be performed if the fever persisted.

The child’s hospitalization ultimately lasted 14 days, and her body’s temperature always equaled or exceeded 100 degrees.

Two days after her discharge, doctors determined that the girl was suffering an acute and total loss of her ability to hear. A CT scan revealed that she was suffering damage of her ears’ cochleas. The child victim’s mother claimed that the damage was a result of untreated meningitis.

The mother, acting as parent and natural guardian, sued Park and Elmhurst Hospital Center’s operator, the New York City Health and Hospitals Corp. The mother alleged that Park and the hospital’s staff failed to diagnose the meningitis. She further alleged that the failures constituted medical malpractice.

Plaintiff’s counsel claimed that the girl’s nuchal rigity indicated that she may have been suffering meningitis. He contended that the symptom should have prompted immediate performance of a spinal tap or some other appropriate test. The plaintiff’s expert neonatologist opined that CT scans revealed that the cochlear damage was a result of ossification that was caused by a bacterial infection.

Park’s records did not clearly indicate the scope of his Nov. 11 examination of the child. He initially contended that the examination may have included performance of tests that detect meningitis, but he ultimately acknowledged that he could not recall having performed such tests. However, Park’s medical expert opined that Park’s treatment did not deviate from accepted standards of care. The expert also opined that the child’s permanent injury was not a product of Park’s actions or inactions.

Park’s counsel moved for summary judgment. The motion was denied, but the appellate division, Second Department, reversed. Thus, the matter proceeded against New York City Health and Hospitals.

New York City Health and Hospitals’ counsel contended that Elmhurst Hospital Center’s staff appropriately treated the patient. He claimed that the baby’s symptoms did not warrant additional treatment.

New York City Health and Hospitals’ also moved for summary judgment. He challenged plaintiff’s counsel’s submission of a supplemental bill of particulars, but his motion was denied.

Injury:

Plaintiff’s counsel claimed that the child victim suffered meningitis that caused damage of her ears’ cochleas. He contended that the damage led to an acute, permanent and total loss of her auditory ability. He noted that the loss occurred during the child’s early formative years, and he claimed that the resultant handicap impaired her cognitive development.

The girl’s mother sought recovery of damages for her daughter’s past and future pain and suffering.

Defense counsel contended that the child’s cochlear damage was a congenital defect.

Result:

The parties negotiated a $3 Million pretrial settlement.

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Judge: David Elliot

Editor’s Comment: This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiff’s counsel. Defense counsel did not respond to the reporter’s phone calls.

Breaking: McNeil Consumer Healthcare pleads guilty in contaminated medicine case

McNeil, a subsidiary of the pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson, is the medication company that makes several popular over-the-counter medications, including Tylenol, Motrin and Benadryl. The company has pled guilty in a federal court to charges or improper disclosure in a case where they were accused of manufacturing and selling dangerous medication that was tainted with metal particles. As part of the settlement, the medication manufacturer will pay $25 Million in fines. The lawsuit details show that the company was apparently aware of improper quality control that led to production and sale of dangerous product. Plaintiffs explain that the company refused to investigate and correct the problems, despite having been warned by consumers who had found obvious contaminants in bottles of their liquid medicines. Court records show that the contamination was later identified as metal and toxic chemicals that were not supposed to be there. It is believed that these dangerous chemicals made their way into the medications during the manufacturing process, possibly due to negligent maintenance. Consumer advocates say that the metals may be a toxic health hazard, especially for babies and young children, the population that these polluted medications were intended for. Some say that the ingestion of these dangerous chemicals can lead to developmental injuries, such as brain damage and learning disabilities.

The same pharmaceutical company has gone through a series of product recalls for other tainted medications over the past several years. A New York City law firm points out that this case appears to be another in a series of production and medication errors made by the company. It raises the questions of product liability and endangering the public health. Consumers who believe that their health may have been adversely affected by these dangerous medicines should see their doctor for evaluation. In addition, an ill or injured consumer has the right to speak to a top injury lawyer for assistance. You can see further details about the federal court case and guilty plea here.

Illustrative Photo Credit: Mike Mozart [License]

Dangerous chemicals and additives in Halloween supplies

Public safety activists are outraged at the latest findings of hazardous chemicals found in children’s holiday costumes and other Halloween products. Scientists were given over 100 holiday costumes, decorations and party favors to determine if they had been tainted by known toxic chemicals or additives. In fact, they even found products that come in contact with food, such as trick-or-treat bags, to be laced with bromine, a chemical with dangerous health consequences. Reports describe the various unhealthy chemicals that were tested for, including bromine, mercury, cadmium, arsenic, phthalates, lead and polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Experts explain that the health hazards from these chemicals can range from brain damage, endocrine or hormone problems, cancer, asthma, learning disabilities and birth defects. The testing was performed on holiday items that were sold in major retail stores such as Target, Walgreens and Walmart. Even a major pharmacy chain, CVS, was found to be selling these dangerous products. Activists warn that stores, manufacturers and importers of these products maintain responsibility for their actions and face negligence lawsuits, personal injury claims and even wrongful death charges if they are found guilty of knowingly putting consumer health at risk. The public is advised to seek immediate medical attention if illness or injury is suspected from a hazardous product. They also have the right to consult with an injury lawyer to determine if they are entitled to compensation for their injury, disorder or a death. See this article for further information on the recent hazardous product investigation.

Illustrative photo by Lotues Wosheang (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Ongoing research reveals possible treatment for traumatic brain injury

A recent medical study showed that treating victims of head injury with xenon gas may minimize the degree of traumatic brain injury (TBI). The gas has been used as a medication for general anesthesia and also tired as a sedative for critical care patients. However, this early-stage study into head injuries suggests that the medicine should be further studied for accident victims and other sufferers of TBIs. Doctors explain that traumatic brain damage often occurs as a result of a car crash, slip and fall accident or assault. War time injuries and explosions can also cause severe head injuries. A mild traumatic brain injury, often referred to as a concussion, can leave the victim with memory problems, personality changes, headaches, dizziness, anxiety and depression. Medical experts say that the more severe the injury to the brain, the more severe and permanent the symptoms can be for the victim. They note that the initial accident or trauma is only the beginning of the process of brain injury. There’s a secondary injury that occurs over the next hours to days that can sometimes create more problems and disability than the initial injury. The researchers believe that the xenon gas is able to protect the health of the brain cells and prevent this further neurological injury, if given soon after a crash or other accident with head injury.

The scientists have also been studying the use of xenon gas for newborn babies who have suffered oxygen deprivation during birth. Possible causes of such lack of oxygen during delivery of an infant can include damage or problems with the health of the placenta or umbilical cord, an umbilical cord that is wrapped around the newborn’s neck, a birth injury, or prolonged labor and delivery of the infant. Experts posit that some of the causes can be due to a doctor’s mistake, missed diagnosis or hospital error while other problems can’t be prevented. The ultimate outcome of the oxygen deprivation can be devistating and leave the infant partially or even fully brain dead. The research scientists hope that their investigation into the use of xenon in these sick or injured patient will help prevent further brain damage. You can read more about the use of this gas as a medicine in brain injuries here.

Illustrative photo by Abu-Amero KK, Al-Dhalaan H, Bohlega S, Hellani A, Taylor RW. [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

New York ranks 7th highest in dog attack lawsuit payouts

An industry report shows that just one insurance company in New York State paid out $6.4 Million in dog bite attack claims last year. Specialists say that the statistics are similar for other insurance carriers who pay hundreds of millions of dollars to injured victims of assaults by dogs. They explain that very often the dog attack could have been prevented by simply putting the canine on a leash or containing it inside of a fence. However, many dog owners are negligent and create a dangerous condition for others that share the sidewalks, streets and public parks. Public safety activists note that dog owners sometimes think that their dog is safe and well trained while the reality is that even small things can set the animal off, triggering a vicious assault. Even dogs that are on a leash as well as small dogs can pose a threat and require close monitoring, especially while in public. The unsuspecting assault victim, often young children, can suffer severe and evening life threatening injuries in the matter of seconds. Common dog attack injuries include lacerations, cuts, broken bones, head injury or even internal bleeding. The long-term effects of the trauma can lead to infections, brain damage, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), dog bite associated diseases and even death.
Police relate that local, state and federal laws regarding dog safety are in place to prevent injuries and wrongful death due to someone being attacked by a dog. In response to inquiries, they answer that owners of dogs that bite someone face fines and personal injury lawsuits. In some circumstances, the owner may face criminal charges for battery, especially if the dog was a known danger or the owner knowingly created a hazardous condition. Homeowner and renter’s insurance policies often contain a third party liability policy that helps cover the cost of a negligence lawsuit and medical bills arising from dog bites. Victims of a dog assault can speak to a qualified personal injury lawyer for further advice. This can include a general passerby, visitor or even a workman injured while at work. Check out more about the frightening reality of dog attacks in New York.

Illustrative photo by Karen Arnold [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

MRI center on Long Island allows man into suite with metal

New York – An elderly man was allowed to enter the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) room of an imaging center in Medford, New York while carrying a walker made from metal material. The strong magnet in the machine forcefully jerked the walker from his hands, causing him to slip and fall. The victim fell and hit his head, evidently leading to an intracranial hemorrhage and stroke only days later. The head injury and brain damage apparently soon led to the man’s death approximately two months later. The injury victim’s son expressed outrage about the incident and filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against those responsible. The case alleges that negligence on the part of the MRI facility’s staff caused a sequence of events that led to the patient’s wrongful death.

Healthcare experts explain that this type of medical error or accident is a known complication of MRI machines. MRI equipment creates an extremely powerful magnetic force that can pull metal objects across the room with enough speed and strength to cause injuries and death. Many cases have been documented of dangerous objects flying through the air in MRI facilities, including heavy steel oxygen tanks, ambulance stretchers, jewelry, pens or even belts and other articles of clothing. In addition, some medical devices can be a hazard when exposed to an MRI machine’s strong magnet. This can include cardiac pacemakers, aneurysm clips, metal surgical rods and screws, and medication pumps. The dangers of these devices shifting or being dislocated during an MRI must be taken very seriously when doctors and MRI staff select eligible patients. Yet another medical complication linked to MRIs is thermal burns caused by the powerful machines. Due to these dangers of MRI accidents, all establishments are required to maintain strict training and protocols to ensure patient and worker safety. This includes complete explanations to the patient, inspections and checklists to avoid anyone from bringing an unauthorized metal object that could cause an MRI injury into the suite. Some metal is allowed in if it is verified to not be attracted to strong magnets. According to a New York City medical malpractice lawyer, the responsibility to maintain patient and workplace safety remains with the staff and doctors of the MRI company. Read more about how to prevent getting injured during an MRI here.

Photo by English: Lance Cpl. Jonathan G. Wright [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Doctors advance research on long-term effects of brain injury

Continuing research in the area of brain injuries has allowed doctors to better understand the long-term problems that an accident victim may face. Brain injuries are well-known to cause many kinds of problems for their victims depending on the type and severity of the injury. Severe brain damage can leave the person unconscious in a coma or vegetative state, unable to breath and can eventually lead to death. Moderate injury to the brain can cause post-traumatic seizures, difficulties speaking, hearing or seeing and can cause serious difficulties with physical functioning of the victim’s body. More mild brain injury can cause memory problems, personality changes, headaches and dizziness. Researchers now understand that personality changes are a significant problem that can affect the person for many years, especially if it is not recognized and treated properly by specialists. Depression, anxiety, impulsiveness and lack of ability to focus can all be manifestations of the changes an injury victim can go through. Children who suffer a mild brain injury or concussion can develop cognitive problems, psychological issues and subsequent difficulty learning. These children may also develop problems functioning in school and with friends.

Neurologists explain that the cause of brain damage can vary from an accident or head injury to lack of oxygen to the brain and can even be caused by chemicals or medications. A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is the term often used when the victim was involved in some sort of head trauma such as a car accident, work injury or blast injury. Some people refer to a mild TBI as a concussion where the person may lose consciousness briefly or suffer with dizziness or vomiting shortly after the accident or crash. Current research continues to work toward understanding the effects of this head trauma for both adults and children later in life. Read more on what you should know about brain injuries here.

Photo by U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael C. Barton [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons