Finding that physicians at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) failed to make a timely and accurate diagnosis of bacterial meningitis, a jury in the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia has awarded $10.1 million to a woman and her 6-year-old son.
According to the complaint, as well as testimony presented during the trial, Shamir Tillery was 11 months old when his mother took him to the emergency room at CHOP in 2009. She told ER doctors that he had been sick for a number of days, with a continual fever. Doctors initially diagnosed an upper respiratory infection and sent him home with medication.
The boy’s mother brought him back the next day, telling doctors that his fever had increased, that he had a rapid heartbeat, and that he was having difficulty breathing. According to expert testimony, Shamir should have been tested for a bacterial infection during that visit, but was not. A day later, with his symptoms worse, his mother brought him back to the ER. After a number of hours, blood tests were conducted, but it was another three hours before the boy was given antibiotics.
Attorneys for the hospital introduced evidence at trial indicating that the boy’s symptoms were similar to bronchitis, and that his condition seemed to improve after initial treatments. Counsel for the boy and his mother successfully argued, though, that it is commonly accepted practice to run blood tests when there is an abnormal respiratory rate and a rapid heartbeat.
The jury’s verdict allocates $1.5 million for future medical expenses, $1.1 million for lost earnings and $7.5 million for pain and suffering.
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