Mother Achieves Settlement In Excess Of $6 Million With Doctor For Not Diagnosing Infant's Infection
If an infant with a Group B Strep infection is not treated or improperly treated the newborn may suffer lifelong serious disabilities
. Because of this it is critical for doctors to consider GBS if a baby exhibits indications of an infection and either rule it out with diagnostic testing or observe the treatment protocol. Below we examine a claim that resulted after a baby who showed signs of a GBS infection was not diagnosed in a timely fashion by the physician.
In this case an expecting mother underwent screening for Group B Strep between the 35th and 37th week of her pregnancy. The screening test showed that she carried the GBS bacteria. As such, while the woman was in labor at the hospital the staff properly administered antibiotics. Nevertheless, even with this prophylactic use of antibiotics during labor, it is still possible for the newborn to develop GBS. The expectant mother in this case took her baby to a pediatrician six weeks after the baby's birth. The physician noted that the baby was febrile. However, the pediatrician did not review the prenatal chart and therefore did not figure out that the baby had previously been exposed to the bacteria.
Without seeing the prenatal chart the doctor merely ordered testing so as to establish what was causing the infant's high fever. By not giving antibiotics to the newborn without delay antibiotics the physician let crucial time to go by during which the newborn became septic, developed meningitis and sustained strokes. As a result the newborn ended up with an untreatable seizure disorder as well as mental retardation.
The mother sued the physician for failing to diagnose the GBS infection and render treatment right away. As the case progressed the doctor stated that she would not have delayed giving antibiotics if she had known about the mothers exposure to the bacteria during the pregnancy. The law firm that handled the matter documented that the pediatrician settled the claim for $6.15 Million.
There is a key point that this claim brings out. If there is a risk that symptoms may be due to a serious underlying cause, for example a group b streptococcus infection, that may result in long lasting disabilities for the baby unless antibiotics are given right away a doctor is expected to consider them as a possibility unless the physician is able to rule them out as the cause. When, as in the case discussed herein, the physician acts as if it is not even a possibility, especially when there is information in the mothers prenatal chart to suggest it might be, and the infant is permanently injured by the delay in treatment, the physician may be liable for malpractice.
by: Joseph Hernandez
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Mother Achieves Settlement In Excess Of $6 Million With Doctor For Not Diagnosing Infant's Infection Washington