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Child left blind and brain damaged after doctor's misdiagnosis

Children in North Carolina are treated every day by their doctors for minor illnesses such as colds, the flu and ear infections. But when pediatricians become too comfortable with assuming one's symptoms are a result of a minor illness, they could mistakenly ignore other symptoms that could suggest that a child is suffering from something far more severe than a cold. Failing to properly diagnose a child with an illness could result in further health complications if the child is not treated correctly and effectively.

On Halloween 2009, a mother brought her 7-year-old son to the doctor because her child had been complaining about a painful headache. The boy's pediatrician simply diagnosed the child with an ear infection and he was sent home. But when the child's symptoms worsened over the next couple of days, the boy's mother took him to the pediatrician again. On Nov. 3, the pediatrician ordered an outpatient CAT scan of the boy's brain. He was then diagnosed with a migraine. This month, a medical malpractice lawsuit was filed against the pediatrician for failing to properly assess the boy's symptoms.

The same day the boy was diagnosed with a migraine, he was found later in the evening unresponsive in his home. He was rushed to the hospital where he was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis - a deadly disease if not treated in time. The lawsuit claims that had the boy been properly diagnosed with the infection days before, he would not have suffered serious injuries that will now affect him for the rest of his life.

After the boy was rushed to the hospital, he spent several weeks in a coma. He was treated for bacterial meningitis, but when the boy awoke from the coma, he was blind and suffered brain damage. His injuries were so severe that he had to re-learn simple tasks such as walking, talking and eating.

The lawsuit claims that instead of ordering a CAT scan, the child's doctor should have immediately sent the boy to a hospital for a spinal tap. Although bacterial meningitis is a deadly disease, it can be treated effectively with antibiotics. If antibiotics are started soon enough, a patient may not experience any further health complications from the infection. Unfortunately, the boy was not diagnosed when he should have been, which delayed his treatment and caused him to lose his eyesight, according to the lawsuit.

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

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