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Family claims misdiagnosis led to their son losing his eyesight

A 9-year-old's family is suing his pediatrician, claiming that the doctor's failure to diagnose their son's spinal meningitis in a timely matter led to the boy losing his eyesight.

According to the recently filed medical malpractice lawsuit, back in October 2009 the boy became quite sick and went to go visit his pediatrician. At that time, he was misdiagnosed with having an ear infection.

However, as the boy's condition worsened, his parents tried once again to make another appointment with his doctor. But, when the doctor's office was called, the receptionist reportedly sent the boy away because he had already been seen. It wasn't until Nov. 3, when due to an extreme headache that was preventing him from performing a neurological exam, that he was sent to have an outpatient scan of his brain. However, this also resulted in yet another misdiagnosis of a migraine.

At this point, the lawsuit states that if instead of a scan he was sent to an emergency room, a spinal tap could have shown that the boy was in fact suffering from spinal meningitis. Being diagnosed sooner could have resulted in treatment, instead of the disease spreading.

It wasn't until later on the same night of the scan that the boy was found unresponsive at his home. He was taken to one hospital, and then airlifted to another, where he remained in a coma for several weeks. When he finally woke up, he was blind. Additionally, the lawsuit also states that he suffered from respiratory failure, impaired speech, impaired hearing and brain damage.

In general, this case shows the true devastating nature of what happens when a patient does not receive a timely diagnosis. In this case, the boy will most likely never be able to see again, and is currently re-learning how to do basic everyday tasks, like walk, talk and eat.

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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