A New Hampshire medical malpractice lawsuit filed on January 17, 2017 against a New Hampshire hospital, three physicians, and other health care providers allege that the plaintiffs’ 13-year-old daughter died on May 7, 2016 after being removed from life support after suffering irreversible brain damage as a result of an undiagnosed (misdiagnosed) brain tumor that should have been diagnosed much earlier had the teenager’s medical providers timely ordered a diagnostic brain CT in light of the young woman’s worsening symptoms.
Nine Missed Opportunities
The New Hampshire medical malpractice lawsuit alleges that the teenager was seen by her pediatrician on February 28, 2016, complaining of headaches. She was advised to return if her headaches continued or if her symptoms changed or worsened.
She returned to her pediatrician’s office on April 21, 2016 and complained that she had headaches for three weeks, including a pounding headache that morning, that she had intermittent nausea for one month, and that she had episodes of vomiting. Her pediatrician diagnosed the teenager as having classic symptoms of a migraine and told her to return if her symptoms continued.
On April 27, 2016, the teenager awoke with continuing symptoms and returned to see her pediatrician, telling her pediatrician that she had a pounding headache that morning and now had numbness in her tongue, according to the family’s New Hampshire medical malpractice lawsuit. The pediatrician diagnosed the teenager as suffering from migraine and sinusitis, and prescribed anti-nausea medication, without ordering further diagnostic testing.
On May 1, 2016, the teenager awoke with a bad headache, and was nauseous and had vomited for several hours, which caused her to go to the defendant hospital’s emergency department. The emergency room physician documented that no imaging had been conducted on the teenager for her headaches and prescribed medication to alleviate her symptoms. The emergency room physician recommended an MRI to be performed on an outpatient basis but failed to order a CT scan to be completed on an emergent basis. As she lay in the defendant hospital’s emergency room, the teenager’s condition deteriorated: she became lethargic and she did not follow a physician’s verbal commands when she was re-evaluated later in the afternoon.
The New Hampshire medical malpractice lawsuit further alleges that the teenager was examined by a pediatrician in the emergency room on the same day, and that she failed to follow his verbal commands at that time, which he attributed to the medication that made her sleepy and her lack of sleep. The pediatrician recommended that the teenager be kept in the emergency room for observation until the effects of her medication wore off, and then discharge her if her mental status had improved. However, the pediatrician did not order a brain CT scan.
A few hours later, a physician came to the teenager’s bedside to re-evaluate her but found that she was still sleeping. Later that night, the teenager’s condition continued to deteriorate to the point that she kept her eyes closed and swayed while two people assisted her to the bathroom. When the physician returned to re-evaluate the teenager, she did not respond to verbal stimulation or attempts at shaking her. Still, the physician did not order an emergent CT scan and assumed that the teenager was exaggerating her symptoms, according to her parents’ New Hampshire medical malpractice lawsuit. The physician admitted the teenager to the hospital for observation and ordered medications and IV fluids but did not order a CT scan.
By the time the teenager arrived on the defendant hospital’s pediatric floor, the nurses noted that she had rapid respirations, swollen eyes, and dried blood in her nose. Her pupils were found to be unequal around 1 a.m. She stopped breathing twice while undergoing a catheterization and she was placed on a ventilator. A physician finally ordered a CT scan, which showed a large brain tumor. A neurosurgeon drained the fluid that had built up in her brain to relieve the pressure, but the prognosis by that time was poor.
The teenager was transferred to another hospital where the tumor was removed during emergency surgery, but she never regained consciousness and was declared brain-dead a few days later. Her parents laid with her after she was removed from life support, until her heart stopped beating.
If you or a family member suffered serious injury as a result of emergency room misdiagnosis in New Hampshire or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a local medical malpractice lawyer in your state who may investigate your emergency room medical malpractice claim for you and represent you or your family member in a medical malpractice case against the hospital and/or the emergency room physician, if appropriate.
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