Failure to Diagnose Infection Results in Death.

When a child goes to the doctor for hip pain, the healthcare provider should consider all symptoms and rule out the worst, more life-threatening conditions first. If they do not, and the child has an infection and dies, the provider is responsible for that death. Providers negligently failed to diagnose and treat 12 year-old Brandon Phillips’ septic hip following a minor basketball injury, which resulted in his untimely death on June 12, 2007. The medical negligence took place at the Choctaw Health Center (CHC), a federally funded clinic in Philadelphia, Mississippi. This negligence resulted in a trial judgment against the United States  for $1,903,961.

Brandon was seen on April 5 at CHC due to pain in his left leg. Brandon had fallen on his left side during a basketball game the day before. He complained of pain in his upper left leg. Two days later, on April 7 Brandon was worse and returned to the center due to increased pain of 10 on a scale of 10 in his hip and the inability to walk. An x-ray revealed possible intramuscular hematoma. His white blood cell count showed markedly elevated neutrophils, which are the white blood cells that fight bacterial infections. In addition, his erythrocyte sedimentation rate (SED rate) was elevated at 18, which is a sign of inflammation. He also presented with a rash on his arms, which is also a symptom of a staph infection. Despite having signs and symptoms of a septic hip, Brandon was given Benadryl, Tylenol, Lortab, and sent home.

The next day, April 8, 2007, around 0530 Brandon was rushed to Neshoba County Hospital due to difficulty breathing and severe pain in his left hip. He was transferred to University Medical Center (UMC) in Jackson, Mississippi where he was properly diagnosed with a septic hip. The infection, however, was extensive due to the delay in diagnosis and treatment. He remained in the PICU for over two months fighting for his life. He lost that battle on June 12, 2007 when he died from multiple organ failure and sepsis syndrome. At trial, the Plaintiffs alleged that the Choctaw Health Center providers failed to properly examine, diagnose, and treat Brandon even though he had signs and symptoms of septic hip. The evidence was undisputed that Brandon’s death could have been avoided simply by a timely prescription for antibiotics.

At trial, the health care providers responsible for treating Brandon did not claim that Brandon did not have a septic hip, or that providers correctly diagnosed or treated his infection. They even admitted that a simple antibiotics prescription would have cured him. They argued that he presented with atypical symptoms of septic hip and it was not a breach of the standard of care for the providers to misdiagnose him. But the trial judge disagreed, awarding judgment in favor of Brandon’s family in the amount of $1,903,961. The case was settled on appeal for $1,675,000. For more information on the settlement, you can read more about this result here. 

If a provider has misdiagnosed you or a loved one, or failed to diagnose a serious condition resulting in permanent injuries or wrongful death, you may have a legal case against the provider. Contact us today to discuss your failure to diagnose case today.