Misdiagnosis of bacterial meningitis causes child to go blind

Pediatricians treat countless children every week in Chicago and throughout the entire state of Illinois for various illnesses and diseases. Fortunately, doctors commonly see children with similar cold or flu-like symptoms that simply result in parents being told to bring their children home so that their kids can get plenty of rest.

But what Illinois parents need to understand is that each child’s symptoms and situation are unique and doctors are responsible for making sure that each child is thoroughly examined in case a child’s symptoms are actually caused by a serious infection such as bacterial meningitis. Failing to properly diagnose a child’s symptoms could cause the child to suffer serious or fatal health complications if he or she does not receive immediate treatment for an infection.

This month, a lawsuit was filed against a pediatrician who allegedly diagnosed a 7-year-old boy with an ear infection after the child complained of a painful headache. Days later, the boy was rushed to the emergency room and diagnosed with bacterial meningitis, an infection that can turn deadly or cause serious harm if not treated in time.

According to the lawsuit, the boy was first treated for his symptoms by a pediatrician on Halloween in 2009. When the child’s symptoms got worse, the boy’s mother attempted to make another appointment with the child’s pediatrician on Nov. 2, but she was told by the receptionist that there was nothing the doctor would be able to do. The next day, the doctor saw the child and noted that he suffered from “acute distress” from a headache. That same evening, the boy was found unresponsive.

He was taken to a local hospital and later airlifted to a children’s hospital where he was diagnosed with the life-threatening infection. The boy spent weeks in a coma, and when he awoke, he was blind and had brain damage. Since the incident, the child has had to re-learn how to walk, talk and eat. However, the lawsuit claims that these serious injuries could have been prevented had the doctor properly diagnosed the child so that he could have received immediate treatment for the infection.

Bacterial meningitis can easily be treated with antibiotics, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But in order to prevent the infection from causing significant damage to the body, it is crucial that doctors diagnose and treat patients immediately.

Source: The Hartford Courant, “Lawsuit Charges that Tolland Boy Lost His Eyesight After Doctor Failed to Diagnose Meningitis,” Denise Buffa, Jan. 17, 2012