Sommers Schwartz attorneys Matthew Curtis and Dina Zalewski secure a $400,000 medical malpracticesettlement in a lawsuit alleging an infant contracted a severe and life-threatening bacterial infection due to his health care providers’ failures to adequately protect him from the infection’s risks.
The child was healthy at delivery, and the only places he visited besides his home were the defendant hospital, where he was born, and the pediatric practice where he had his first newborn visit.
The defendant medical assistant who saw the infant at the first and second pediatric visits coughed throughout both examinations and did not wear a mask or other personal protective equipment. The child returned less than one month later with a fever. Yet again, the medical assistant coughed during the entire visit and did not wear a mask.
Ten days later, with a consistently high fever, the infant was admitted to the emergency room, where tests indicated an area of concern in the upper lobe of his right lung and elevated c-reactive protein and white blood cell count. He was diagnosed with pneumonia and sent home with antibiotics.
A few weeks later, when the child returned for a follow-up appointment, a CT scan showed bronchogenic cysts on his right lung that required surgical intervention to remove. However, the surgery had to be delayed after further tests revealed he had two possible lung infections: histoplasmosis and tuberculosis (TB).
The TB drugs made the child extremely sick and irritable and caused vomiting that consequently made it difficult for him to keep the medicine down. His parents had to use an NG tube to administer the drugs for several months, a traumatic process for the child and his parents.
The parents later learned that the medical assistant tested positive and was later diagnosed and hospitalized with tuberculosis. Other staff at the medical office also tested positive for TB. The child’s immediate friends and family tested negative.
The medical assistant’s negligence in exposing the child to TB and the medical practice’s failure to take preventive steps to screen staff for TB directly led to the child’s life-threatening illness and the need for ongoing and distressing medical care. The infection and the necessary treatment caused severe emotional and psychological trauma to the child and his family. Fortunately, the treatment of the child’s TB infection was successful, and he is doing well.
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