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Lindsay Buchlmayer, a minor v Riverside Community Hospital

Dr. Fagel achieved a verdict of $3,600,000 on behalf of a child who suffered brain damage after contracting neonatal viral encephalitis at birth. During her pregnancy, the mother had two viral outbreaks, but the obstetrician, Dr. Moore, determined that they would not represent a threat to the baby’s health. After the delivery, the nursery nurse, Lujuana Gresham, failed to enter the mother’s medical history onto the baby’s nursery chart and instead wrote that there were no complications in the pregnancy. As such, the pediatrician, Dr. Mackey, never knew about the mother’s history and discharged the baby 12 hours after delivery with no special instructions because the baby appeared healthy. 12 days later, the parents brought the baby back to the hospital with a shaking right arm and a fever. The baby was diagnosed with sepsis/meningitis and treated with antibiotics. Because Mrs. Gresham did not document the mother’s medical record, Dr. Mackey did not view viral encephalitis as a potential cause of the child’s condition. The proper diagnosis was not made until two days later, when a brain scan showed evidence of encephalitis. Unfortunately, by this point the virus had spread throughout the child’s brain and caused significant, permanent brain damage.

For months after the diagnosis, Dr. Moore told the parents that a C-section would not have changed the outcome because the child was infected through the placenta before birth. Furthermore, all three defendants claimed that earlier treatment would not have improved the child’s condition. However, Dr. Fagel argued and proved that the defendants’ actions significantly contributed to the child’s permanent injuries. He presented evidence at the trial showing that a C-section would have prevented any infection or injury to the baby because the baby was infected during the birth process. Furthermore, he showed that the delay in diagnosing the infection, which resulted from the nurse’s failure to document the mother’s medical history, prevented doctors from giving the baby the specific treatment needed to combat the virus before it became serious. Specific treatment was readily available that would have significantly improved the child’s outcome if given in the early stages of the disease, and evidence presented at the trial proved that the child’s condition would be normal if she had been treated with Acyclovir when she was first admitted to the hospital 12 days after her birth.

Although the jury found the two doctors not negligent, the nurse was determined to be negligent and responsible for the child’s injuries. The money awarded will be used to cover the child’s past and future medical expenses and to compensate for future loss of earnings.