Bruce Keplinger and John Hicks of Norris & Keplinger of Overland Park, Kansas, successfully represented a pediatrician in a medical malpractice wrongful death case. The plaintiffs were the parents of a two and a half month old child who died of bacterial meningitis. The child was seen in defendant’s office on Friday, July 16, 2010, with a low grade fever, decreased feeding and fussiness. The mother reported that the fever had been present for seven days and that the child’s temperature remained between 100 and 101 despite Tylenol. On physical examination, however, the child made good eye contact and did not appear toxic. By history, both the child and his older brother had been fighting off a viral illness. Based on his examination of the child, the defendant believed the symptoms were consistent with a viral illness and that the fussiness was due to gastrointestinal issues. The defendant prescribed Zantac and instructed the parents to follow-up on Monday which had previously been scheduled as a well-baby visit.
At trial the parents claimed that the child’s condition deteriorated over the weekend and that they did not seek treatment over the weekend because the defendant had assured them that there was nothing to be concerned about. At the well-baby visit on Monday, July 19, 2010, the child exhibited increased fussiness and the parents reported a fever of 102 the night before. The child was given IV antibiotics over the next several days but ultimately passed away on July 26, 2010.
Plaintiffs’ experts testified that the standard of care required the defendant to order a septic work up including lumbar puncture on July 16, 2010. Plaintiffs’ experts also claimed that antibiotics should have been started immediately. Defendant’s experts testified that neither a septic work up nor antibiotics were indicated on July 16, 2010, and that earlier treatment was unlikely to have made any difference. Defendant’s experts testified that the child’s illness on July 16, 2010, was more consistent with a viral infection and that the bacterial infection likely occurred sometime over the weekend.
Plaintiffs claimed the child experienced increased pain and suffering as a result of the delay in diagnosis and that the parents suffered both economic and non-economic damages as a result of their child’s death. Plaintiffs requested a total of $750,000 in economic and non-economic damages.
On November 7, 2014, after a five-day trial, the jury returned a verdict for the defense.