$1.2 Million for Failure to Diagnose & Treat Pneumonia

Dino Privitera achieved a $1.2 million verdict for the family of a young man who died from complications of pneumonia which were not properly treated by his physician.

Our client, a 22 year old college student, developed a persistent cough in October 2005 and was prescribed an oral antibiotic by his pediatrician. At birth he was diagnosed with chronic granulomatous disease (GCD). GCD weakens the immune system and makes the carrier susceptible to infections, especially respiratory infections. If treated and handled properly, persons with GCD can lead relatively normal healthy lives. His pediatrician knew of his past history with GCD and had managed his care with the disease since early childhood.

Two weeks after his first visit in October 2005, the young patient returned to his doctor complaining of cough and shortness of breath. Blood studies taken prior to the visit showed that he had signs of an infection, a high white blood cell count and a normal sedimentation rate. A chest x-ray was ordered and demonstrated pneumonia in the left lung. The doctor gave him two more prescriptions to battle the pneumonia.

Despite the new medications his conditions worsened and he went to see his doctor for a third time. At this visit he was coughing and had developed a fever. The doctor ordered a second chest x-ray which showed the pneumonia had worsened and blood studies showed his infection had become more severe. The doctor determined the plaintiff “looked okay” and sent him home with medication for his cough and fever.

The condition worsened and he called his doctor to set up an appointment to discuss hospitalization. At that visit, the plaintiff met with his doctor who again told him he looked good, hospitalization was not necessary and he would see him in his office after the holiday weekend. Over the weekend, the plaintiff began to vomit and was severely short of breath. He called his doctor and was told to go to the emergency room.

Upon admission to the emergency room the plaintiff’s white blood cell count was exceptionally high and he was tachycardic, tachypneic and hypoxic. A chest x-ray showed the pneumonia was worsening in both lungs and blood cultures were ordered to identify the bacteria causing the pneumonia. Unfortunately, by the time the cultures identified the bacteria there was not enough time to save the patient and he died in the hospital from complications of pneumonia.

Eisenberg and Privitera were able to prove that the doctor fell below the standard of care by not admitting the plaintiff to the hospital despite numerous signs of worsening infection and pneumonia. Given the plaintiff’s difficulty in fighting infections from his underlying condition of GCD, and the fact that numerous prescriptions were not working to fight the pneumonia, the doctor should have hospitalized the plaintiff, at the latest, after his third visit. The doctor failed to do so and his negligence cost the plaintiff his life.

It takes a specific mindset, specialized skills and substantial resources. The types of cases we handle are not the average personal injury. They involve severe, permanent injuries to people that radically affect their lives forever, or in some instances, even cause their death.