Last month, a Tennessee jury returned a $7.8 million dollar jury verdict to a family of a boy who sustained severe brain damage as a result of alleged medical malpractice. The brain damaged stems from the failure of doctors to properly treat the boys wound after falling on a nail. At trial, the family's medical malpractice lawyer proved the failure to timely treat the wound with proper antibiotics resulted in a preventable infection that caused the child's brain damage.
In 2004, then twelve-year-old Jonathan Reynolds fell on a nail at an amusement park. He was taken to a Dryesburg Medical Center in Tennessee for treatment. There, doctors treated the wound but discharge Jonathan later that day without allegedly providing proper antibiotic treatment and other necessary medications to prevent infection. Two days later, Jonathan was readmitted to the hospital with increased pain, redness and swelling that was steadily moving up his leg. However, doctors at the hospital failed to diagnose his condition as flesh-eating bacteria and otherwise failed to appreciate the severity of his symptoms. Only when another doctor saw the boy several days later was Jonathan properly diagnosed. However, because of the original misdiagnosis by the first doctors and their failure to provide antibiotics from the beginning, the infection had spread even further. As a result, Jonathan's slipped into a coma, during which time he developed seizures and resulting brain damage.
Brain damage can occur from a variety of conditions, including infections and seizures. The most common infections that can cause brain damage are meningitis, encephalitis and brain abscess. Infections can also indirectly cause brain damage when, for example, they lead to seizures, as in the Reynolds case. A seizure is a sudden, abnormal electrical response in the brain. Depending upon the nature and extent of the seizure, brain cells can die and cause brain damage.
At trial, the jury heard extensive expert testimony on whether doctors were negligent and whether that negligence ultimately caused Jonathan's brain damage. In the end, the jury determined the doctors were negligent, that this negligence caused the flesh-eating infection, and that this flesh eating infection ultimately caused Jonathan's brain damage. After 15 days of trial testimony, the jury returned a verdict for the family and awarded the family $7.8 million dollars on behalf of Jonathan.
Reuters, Jury Awards $7.8M In Hospital Negligence Suit, September 1, 2012.
Dyersburg State Gazette, Family Receives $7.8 Million In Flesh-Eating Bacteria Case, August 31, 2012.
WebMD, Brain & Nervous System Health Center, Viewed September 12, 2012.