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Case of failure to diagnose meningitis settles before trial

Illinois residents who have suffered harm at the hands of medical personnel retain the right to file medical malpractice claims and have their day in court. However, many of these cases settle prior to going to trial for any number of reasons, not the least of which is due to the fact that litigation -- even when necessary -- can be stressful, time consuming and expensive. Therefore, it might not be difficult to understand that a case involving the failure to diagnose meningitis settled before the trial was scheduled to begin.

On April 6, 1997, a mother took her then 10-month-old child to the emergency room. Lab tests were run that indicated he could be developing meningitis. However, doctors failed to perform the proper follow up examination and tests that could have confirmed that fact. Instead, he was diagnosed as being dehydrated and was sent home. Two days later, the mother noticed that her son's eyes had rolled back in his head and his arms were stiff.

He suffered a seizure at the doctor's office and was flown to Philadelphia where he was admitted to a children's hospital. The boy continued to have seizures, and doctors had to insert drains in order to reduce the pressure that had built up on his brain. Since that time, his mother has been caring for him full time since he is not able to do many tasks on his own. When her son turned 18, she filed a medical malpractice claim so as not to miss the expiration of the statute of limitations. He is now 20 years old, and the case settled just prior to trial.

This case illustrates the damage that a failure to diagnose can cause. This man never had the chance to live a normal life because doctors did not take the time to rule out meningitis. Similar diagnosis errors made by Illinois doctors could also alter the course of a patient's life, and those medical professionals could be held accountable for their actions. The prospect of settling the case without having to go to trial might be attractive, but it is essential to be sure that any settlement is in the best interests of the victim and the family before accepting it.

Source: timesleader.com, "Settlement reached in Avoca mother's lawsuit against Geisinger", Joe Dolinsky, July 7, 2016

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Q: What is medical malpractice?

A: Medical malpractice is negligence committed by a professional health care provider, such as a doctor, nurse, dentist, technician, hospital worker or hospital, whose treatment of a patient departs from a standard of care met by those with similar training and experience, resulting in harm to a patient...

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