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Medical Misdiagnosis & Communication Error Lead to Death of Boy

Alejandro Ramirez was admitted to a trauma center after an automobile accident. There, it was discovered that Alejandro had a fracture in his skull that extended into his sinus cavity. After being discharged from the hospital, Alejandro started to complain of worsening headaches. Alejandro saw his pediatrician, who ordered a CT scan of his head. The radiologist who interpreted the CT read it as negative. Alejandro therefore was diagnosed with migraines.

Several days later, Alejandro became very ill. His mother rushed him to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with meningitis, a potentially-lethal infection of the tissue surrounding the brain. Unfortunately, Alejandro did not survive this infection.

The Eisen Law Firm was called in to assist another firm in the lawsuit that was filed against Alejandro’s pediatrician and the radiologist who read the CT scan. After having the CT scan read by an outside expert, The Eisen Law Firm learned that the CT scan was not “negative.” In fact, it showed a likely infection in Alejandro’s sinuses. It also turned out that the radiologist and the pediatrician both knew of this possible infection and did nothing about it. This misdiagnosis could have been avoided when the CT scan was reviewed.

The Eisen Law Firm took the position that because of Alejandro’s skull fracture, the bacteria in his sinus had a pathway to travel right to the brain. Therefore, it was critical for the pediatrician to treat Alejandro with antibiotics before the infection travelled to his brain.

The defense claimed that the infection that led to Alejandro’s death was not related to the infection suggested on the CT scan. They also claimed that autopsy did not find any evidence of a “pathway” from the sinus to the brain. At deposition, however, the pathologist had to admit that she never looked at the fracture line because no one told her that there was an old fracture. The Eisen Law Firm then alleged that the two doctors conspired to deprive the pathologist of information needed to properly carry out her duties. It was a novel theory, and it ultimately triggered a change in attitude by the defense that led to a seven-figure settlement.