Health Care Providers Prevail in Failure to Diagnose Case: They Did Not Breach the Standard of Care

Type of Case: Medical Malpractice

Practice Area(s): Professional Liability – Health Care

Lawyer(s): Barbara Zurek

Office(s): Minneapolis

Date: May 4 2016

Case involved claims against 6-7 health care providers, employed between two professional practices, arising out of care provided to an 11-year old child, who presented with abdominal pain, fear of eating, and weight loss/malnutrition and chronic headaches. Meagher & Geer represented a psychologist and 2 pediatric GI specialists. A psychiatrist, 2 other pediatricians and a nurse practitioner were the other care providers involved in the case. The child was seen over the course of about 1 year by 26 providers for about 144 visits before the child was ultimately diagnosed with a germinoma brain tumor. The defendants saw the child at the beginning of the one year course of events, before her symptoms evolved.

The case was tried over the course of 2.5 weeks, with the jury returning a verdict less than 30 minutes after commencing deliberations. Plaintiff alleged that along with the child’s extensive work up for GI sources for her complaints of abdominal pain and weight loss, she should have had a comprehensive endocrine and/or neurology work up and/or MRI scan of her head for her chronic and longstanding headaches. The jury heard testimony about the criteria pediatric providers use when evaluating pediatric patients with headaches and what is required to indicate work up for headaches, including neurology consultation and MRI scanning and that this child did not have worrisome findings that would warrant such an evaluation. The jury further heard testimony that the length of time it took to diagnose this child’s tumor was well within the usual amount of time for these types of tumors, as they can be difficult to diagnose because of the unusual symptomatology; and that the treatment ultimately rendered (with likely cure) was largely the same treatment that would have been rendered if an earlier diagnosis had been made.

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