Medical Malpractice Case Report: $1,257,234 Jury Verdict for Negligent Failure to Diagnose Acute Appendicitis Resulting in Death of 21-Month-Old

A unanimous Hibbing, Minnesota jury awarded $1,257,234 to family of a 21-month-old boy who died after his doctor failed to diagnose and treat his acute appendicitis. Firm Partner Terry Wade handled this medical malpractice case.  Read the following Minnesota Association for Justice (MAJ) Minnesota Case Report, Vol.28, No.5, Oct. 2009: 

Selected Results*

(Excerpts taken with permission from Minnesota Trial Lawyer Association’s (MTLA) “Minnesota Case Reports”)

A.M. became ill on Sunday, January 27, 2008, with a low grade fever, vomiting and unwillingness to stand or walk. Over a 4-day period this 21-month old boy was misdianosed twice. A.M. was initially diagnosed as having influenza during a telephone conversation Monday morning with a nurse from the office of Dr. K., a Hibbing pediatrician. A's appointment was cancelled by the nurse.  Dr. K. scheduled approximately 45 patients that day - most of them for 10 minute evaluations.

Three days later, a diagnosis of "stomach flu" (gastroenteritis) was made following an office examination of the boy of less than 10 minutes by Dr. K.  The doctor told the boy's father that A's appendix was fine even though A cried louder than his father had ever heard him cry during the abdominal exam. Dr. K was running approximately an hour behind schedule that day and had another commitment in another community. No laboratory or imaging studies were done. The boy died the next day at home.

A. had neither influenza nor gastroenteritis.  He had a gangrenous appendix which had leaked bacteria into his abdomen and this was the only cause of his death according to the St. Louis County Medical Examiner's investigation.  The acute abdominal process had been present for 48 to 120 hours prior to the boy's death according to the autopsy findings.