Million Dollar Recovery for Failure to Admit Baby with Viral Meningitis

Jane and John Doe took their two-week-old infant to the ABC Emergency Room because he had a temperature of 101º and was not acting or feeding normally. Discounting Mrs. Doe's maternal instincts and her report of fever because of her "knowledge deficit," the hospital sent the family home. When Mr. and Mrs. Doe brought their baby back ten hours later, he was already having seizures. As it turned out the baby had herpes encephalitis, which is the only viral meningitis with an effective treatment. By the time the treatment was administered it was too late to prevent extensive brain damage.

In defense of the case, ABC Hospital pointed to the two temperature readings in the ER which were both below 101º. Its experts also questioned whether the ten-hour delay actually made a difference in the outcome and raised questions about the character and negligence of the parents. Nevertheless, the insurance companies for the hospital and the emergency room group paid over a million dollars to settle the case. The money is being used for medical care and rehabilitation therapy and handicapped accommodations to help Baby Doe and his family live as normal a life as possible.

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