Two Physicians Liable for Pediatric Patient Death from Swine Flu, $8M Award before Cap Applied

February 20, 2015 | Physician Practice News

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​Two Louisiana physicians have been held liable for $8 million in damages in regard to the death of a pediatric patient from influenza A, who allegedly should have been diagnosed as having the H1N1 flu virus and been provided antiviral treatment as a patient at high risk of complications from the disease, according to a report published February 3, 2015, in the Times-Picayune (Louisiana). The $8 million judgment was reduced to $500,000, which is the state cap on medical malpractice awards. After experiencing flulike symptoms for two days, the child was seen by her pediatrician, who said that her fever of 100.2 degrees was probably related to sinusitis. The patient had a history of allergies to an antibiotic that the physician prescribed during this visit. The next day, the child's mother called the office to report that her daughter's condition was deteriorating, and the mother was allegedly instructed to continue the prescribed treatment, including a decongestant, an inhaler, and the antibiotic. The mother brought her child to a hospital, where she was examined by another physician who noted a fever of 101.7 degrees and a positive test result for influenza A. The physician discharged the patient without prescribing antiviral therapy. Four days after the child visited the pediatrician's office, the pediatrician saw her again and allegedly failed to examine the patient or prescribe antiviral medication. The defense attorney noted that the patient's fever had dropped to 98.9 degrees by this time.

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