On May 29, 2021, a Missouri medical malpractice wrongful death jury returned its verdict of almost $3.2 million in favor of the parents of a one-year-old who died three hours after he was seen in an urgent care clinic at CoxHealth Hospital in Branson, Missouri, on June 5, 2017. The urgent care clinic allegedly missed diagnosing the toddler with having Kawasaki’s disease.
An autopsy reportedly concluded that the child’s death was due to acute heart failure from a clot in a large coronary artery aneurysm. Kawasaki’s disease causes inflammation of blood vessels in both children and infants. A few months prior, the child was brought into a primary care clinic operated by CoxHealth for a prolonged fever, which is a symptom of Kawasaki’s disease. A nurse practitioner misdiagnosed the child at that time with pneumonia, and the child was sent home.
The child’s mother brought her son to the urgent care clinic on June 5, 2017 at which time a physician assistant observed that the child was pale and lethargic. The physician assistant diagnosed the child as having an ear infection after which he was sent home. The child’s mother stated with regard to the urgent care visit, “The physician assistant, I guess, did what he felt was adequate work, but he never physically laid hands on my son. I held my son the whole time, he didn’t feel well. He looked in his ear and said ‘Well, it’s slightly red, he has a slight ear infection’ prescribed me amoxicillin and sent me on my way.”
Her son’s sudden and unexpected death gnawed at her for about a year: “I was like, this isn’t right, something’s not right, you don’t take a baby to urgent care, and then three hours later after he’s diagnosed with a slight ear infection, that baby doesn’t die, that’s just not what happens. Me pursuing this case was never about a financial gain. My pursuing this case was about accountability.”
“If nobody is held accountable, how do things change? You have to fight for what is right. This award has sent a clear message to CoxHealth that the public demands a better standard of care for every infant and child. I did not think it would take a jury trial to send this important message, but the result is worth the fight.”
CoxHealth issued the following statement after the jury’s verdict: “We cannot comment on litigation in detail due to patient privacy restrictions. However, we can share that after a thorough review, we believe the care given in this situation was appropriate. This belief is also supported by external experts in the field. While we support our judicial system, we do not agree with this decision. That does not change the tragic reality, and our sympathies remain with the family during this time.”
If you or a loved one may have been injured (or worse) as a result of medical negligence in Missouri or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a Missouri medical malpractice lawyer, or a medical malpractice lawyer in your state, who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you or your loved one in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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