Judge William Platt issued a statement that told Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) that they will not hear the appeal of an $11.3 million jury award that they were hoping to have reversed. In the state's Superior Court, the jury had found that medical staff was negligent in failing to diagnose meningitis in a boy who was 11-months-old named Shamir Tillery. Shantice Tillery, the boy's mother, brought suit against the hospital after her son was misdiagnosed on several occasions upon visiting the emergency department at CHOP. As a result, the boy had severe problems with hearing as well as brain damage and it has caused him to be unable to speak.
In 2009, at less than a year old, Shamir went to the ER at CHP complaining of a fever and other respiratory problems. Doctors found him to have a respiratory infection, a cough, and a differential diagnosis of pneumonia. The next day he returned as his condition had further worsened, as he was still having breathing concerns and was dehydrated and become lethargic. The attending physician, Dr. Goyal, order x-rays of the chest region which ruled out both pneumonia and the respiratory infection diagnosis. He was released shortly after with a supportive plan of treatment and a follow up visit with a primary care physician.
Upon returning the following day, an examination by Dr. Ram Bishnoi and Dr. Kyle Nelson confirmed a diagnosis of bronchiolitis. Dr. Nelson also had a differential diagnosis that suggested fever, and possible pneumonia and bacterial infection. Next, the boy saw Dr. Joel Fein and blood work revealed significantly heightened counts of white blood cells and reactive proteins. Dr. Fein had a lumbar puncture conducted that finally led to the diagnosis of meningitis and antibiotic treatment.
Shortly after, Shamir was brought to CHOP's Intensive Care Unit and formally diagnosed with streptococcus pneumonia meningitis, hearing loss and potential damage to the brain. This form of meningitis is common among small children in the U.S. and typically leads to pneumonia or infections within the ear or sinuses. His mother filed a medical malpractice claim based on negligence.
During a trial that lasted five-weeks, the jury heard from plaintiff medical experts who felt that if the hospital had made a timely diagnosis that these conditions would have been avoided. Attorneys for the hospital contend that the medical opinions were inaccurate and that the award for damages was significantly excessive.
To the dismay of CHOP attorneys, the verdict will not be voided and the jury's findings will remain. They allocated fault in the matter as 40% to Dr. Goyal and 60% to Dr. Bishnoi. The summary of damages was as follows:
- $1.12 million for losses of future earning and limited capacity to earn
- $7.5 million for pain, suffering, deformity, embarrassment, and losses of pleasure and enjoyment of life
- $22,000 annually through the year 2085 (69 years) for medical and other similar expenses, which totals roughly $1.52 million