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Philadelphia Jury Awards $3.38 Million In Medical Malpractice Case Involving Death Of 21-Month-Old

A jury awarded $3.38 million following three days of deliberation to the family of Casey Lei, a deceased 21-month-old. The medical malpractice trial in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas lasted for two weeks and was presided over by Judge Michael Erdos. Lei died at Einstein Medical Center from the strangulation of the small intestine, which the plaintiffs say was the result of negligence in failing to diagnose and treat her medical condition. An attorney for the plaintiffs called it a “preventable tragedy that was caused by medical negligence.”

Case Details

When the girl initially became ill, she was taken to the doctor and was given anti-nausea medication and told to ingest increased liquids. Later that evening, the girl was found unresponsive and was taken to the emergency department at Einstein Elkins Park. The medical staff administered fluids and determined her heart rate was elevated. The family said that the monitoring equipment had signaled an alarm multiple times; however, the nursing staff simply muted them.

Several hours later, her blood pressure fell significantly, her skin began to pale, and staff attempted to revive her. She died roughly one-hour later. The claim stated that the hospital had no pediatrician available to care for her. Prior to her death, she had bilious vomiting, which is a known indicator that bowel obstruction exists. The claim also accused the staff of altering the medical records in efforts to avoid culpability. A plaintiff attorney said that the “jury clearly understood” the nature of the failure to properly care for the victim.

Small Bowel Obstruction (SBO)

An SBO in more developed countries is most commonly the result of intra-abdominal adhesions. Other potential causes include hernias and Crohn disease. An SBO may be considered as partially or completely strangulated. Other common symptoms include constipation, swelling in the abdominal region, and fever. In most cases, the patient will experience a combination of several indicators of an obstruction.

Diagnostic Errors in Medical Malpractice

Errors in diagnosis typically occur in three ways:

  • A medical condition may be misdiagnosed as being something else
  • Failing to diagnose by not identifying a health condition
  • A delay in diagnosis may be caused by failing to properly test or through communication failures

Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Overview

Cases of medical malpractice are based on acts of negligence committed by a doctor or other medical practitioner. To prove a case, it must be shown that the professional failed to meet the standard of care. A breach of the standard of care occurs when the level or quality of care falls below the current level of acceptability among those in a given profession. Care standards are influenced by various factors, such as the patient’s other conditions and age.

The failure to meet the standard of care must be shown to have resulted in the injury or harm that the patient incurred. This is essentially a causal relationship between the negligence and the resulting harm. These cases often hinge on testimony from a medical expert that is sufficiently qualified to make an accurate assessment of the care provided.

About the Author

Briggs Bedigian
Briggs Bedigian

H. Briggs Bedigian (“Briggs”) is a founding partner of Gilman & Bedigian, LLC.  Prior to forming Gilman & Bedigian, LLC, Briggs was a partner at Wais, Vogelstein and Bedigian, LLC, where he was the head of the firm’s litigation practice.  Briggs’ legal practice is focused on representing clients involved in medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. 


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