In late January 2015, a Louisiana medical malpractice jury returned its verdict in the amount of $8 million in favor of the mother of an 8-year-old child who was infected with the H1N1 virus (also known as the swine flu) that was misdiagnosed and mistreated by her pediatricians, leading to her death, according to the mother’s Louisiana medical malpractice lawsuit. On February 2, 2015, the trial judge reduced the $8 million medical malpractice verdict to $500,000, which is the maximum allowed under Louisiana’s cap on damages in medical malpractice claims.
The child died in 2009, eleven days after her mother brought her to her pediatrician because the child had been sick with a sore throat and fever and had been coughing and sneezing for two days. The defendant pediatrician examined the child and diagnosed her condition as sinusitis, for which he prescribed an antibiotic, a decongestant, and an inhaler. Following the child’s death, an autopsy revealed that the child had the H1N1 virus and that complications from the flu was the cause of her death.
The mother’s Louisiana medical malpractice lawsuit named as the defendants the pediatrician who first treated her daughter and his colleague, which alleged that the defendants failed to properly and timely diagnose the child’s H1N1 virus and that they had time to properly treat the virus with antiviral medications but failed to do so.
The child was at high risk for developing complications from the flu due to her history of asthma, bronchial pulmonary dysplasia, and pulmonary hypertension related to her development following her premature birth at 27 weeks. The flu was at epidemic levels at the time her mother brought her to the defendant pediatrician on August 27, 2009. The next day, the mother called the defendant pediatrician’s office to advise that her daughter’s condition had worsened, but she was told to continue with the medications that had been prescribed the day before. The mother brought her daughter to the hospital the same day where she tested positive for Influenza A, but no further treatment was given and no antiviral medication was prescribed. Three days later, the child’s condition continued to deteriorate and she was brought by her mother to be examined by the other defendant, who allegedly failed to properly examine the child and failed to prescribe any antiviral medication; the defendant prescribed rest, fluids, Tylenol, and to continue with the previously prescribed medications.
Two days later, the child’s temperature was 103 degrees and she had no appetite. The mother called the defendant pediatrician’s office but was not instructed to bring her daughter to the emergency room. The next day, the child was seen in the other defendant’s office at which time he instructed the mother to bring her child to the emergency room because the child’s respiratory rate was 60 breaths per minute, with crackles. At the hospital, the child’s blood oxygen was 67% and she was admitted. The following day, an antiviral medication was administered for the first time but by then the child was in acute respiratory distress with pneumonia. She was placed on a ventilator two days later and died that evening, with her mother at her bedside.
A medical review panel, which was required under Louisiana’s medical malpractice law to review the plaintiff’s medical malpractice claim before it could be filed in court, had found no breach in the standard of care by any of the defendants (in 2012, Louisiana medical review panels found in favor of medical malpractice plaintiffs in less than 4% of the cases that the panels decided). The defendants’ attorney introduced the report by the medical review panel into evidence during the medical malpractice trial, which took place from January 20 to January 28, 2015.
If you or a loved one suffered serious injuries or death due to medical negligence in Louisiana or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a Louisiana medical malpractice lawyer, or find a medical malpractice lawyer in your state, who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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