A concerned 17-year-old Florida mother brought her 3-month-old infant son to a local hospital emergency room in Florida because he had been vomiting and had diarrhea for three days. She and her son were in the emergency department for four and a half hours before she was told that it was safe for her to bring her son home.
Early the next morning, less than six hours after leaving the emergency room, , her infant son had difficulty breathing and had to be rushed back to the same hospital emergency room. In the emergency room, the infant was noted to suffer seizures and stopped breathing. The doctors were able to revive the infant in the emergency room, but unfortunately he had suffered irreversible brain damage due to extreme dehydration that was the cause of his seizures and breathing problems.
By the age of nine, when the resulting medical malpractice case came before a jury for trial, the boy’s mental capacity was such that he needed help in dressing himself, he was two full grades behind in school, and he was still attempting to learn the alphabet. It was doubtful that he would ever graduate from high school or be able to find and hold a job.
The jury found that the hospital and a doctor negligently failed to check the infant for dehydration during the first hospital emergency room visit and failed to properly treat the infant’s dehydration. With a history of several days of vomiting and diarrhea, the risk of dehydration was a known and potentially serious medical condition that should have been investigated and treated by the hospital and the doctor during the first visit. Dehydration, especially in infants such as a 3-month-old, requires prompt diagnosis as well as prompt and appropriate medical treatment. If not treated in time, dehydration can lead to brain damage and even death.
The jury determined that the hospital was 60% responsible for the boy’s brain damage and that a doctor was 40% at fault. The hospital disagreed with the jury’s decision (the doctor had settled before the trial).
What was once a happy and health 3-month-old developed into a permanently brain damaged adolescent with limited mental capacity and with the prospect of life-long challenges and disappointments. One can only imagine the emotional trauma suffered by the 17-year-old mother when advised about her son’s permanent limitations. The cause of this tragedy was the medical negligence of the hospital and a doctor, as determined by the jury — with proper and timely treatment at the time of the first emergency room visit, this boy’s future could have been bright and spectacular. Instead, two lives have been ruined — the boy’s and his mother’s.
The medical care provided by hospitals is only as good as the people who provide that care. If a hospital or its staff has caused you or a loved one to be seriously injured, you may have the basis for a medical malpractice claim. Visit our website to be connected with local medical malpractice lawyers who may be willing to review your possible medical malpractice claim and represent you, if appropriate. You may also reach us toll free at 800-295-3959.
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