Ms. N explained to the patient’s mother that she was going to contact a pediatric neurodevelopmental clinic and that the clinic would contact the patient’s mother for an appointment. However, the office became very busy, and Ms. N did not contact the neurodevelopmental clinic until 11 days after Baby B had been in her office. When she did contact them, Ms. N asked the clinic to send her office a copy of their findings following an evaluation of Baby B.
A few weeks later, when the baby was aged 11 months, his mother brought him back to see Ms. N again. She told Ms. N that the neurodevelopmental clinic had not contacted her about an appointment. Ms. N told the mother that the neurodevelopmental clinic was often busy and to wait until they call but make sure to take the child in at that time.
Examination of the baby at that visit revealed the persistence of developmental delays, including the absence of sitting, crawling, and rolling over.
One month later, when the baby was aged 12 months, his mother returned with him for his 1-year checkup. Ms. N noted that Baby B had marked developmental delays with minimal muscle tone, no social interaction, and no smile. The baby’s mother reported that the neurodevelopmental clinic had called and the child had an appointment in two weeks.
When the baby was finally seen by the neurodevelopmental clinic two weeks after that appointment with Ms. N, MRI and CT scans were performed and revealed a right choroid plexus papilloma. Five days later, the patient underwent craniotomy and resection of the papilloma. The prognosis was guarded, but the surgeon was hopeful that the patient would recover without permanent neurological damage. Unfortunately, that did not turn out to be the case.
Six years later, the boy, now aged 7 years, underwent a neurologic examination that revealed that his IQ was 66 and he would likely require lifelong assistance, making him unable to live independently as an adult.
The child’s mother consulted a plaintiff’s attorney who examined the medical records and pointed out the lengthy delay between when Ms. N identified developmental issues and when the child was seen by the neurodevelopmental clinic. The attorney had experts look at the records, and the experts believed that the delay in obtaining a neurological evaluation on an urgent basis resulted in increasing pressure from the tumor, which was a causative factor in the boy’s permanent neurologic problems.
The attorney filed a lawsuit against Ms. N and Dr. P. Both clinicians consulted with the attorneys provided by their malpractice insurance. The defense attorneys expressed concern that more than two months had passed from when Ms. N first identified developmental delays until when the child was seen by the neurodevelopmental clinic.
The case proceeded with discovery, meaning that all documents and records were produced. The boy was examined by defense experts, and the two clinicians and the experts testified in depositions. Before the case went to trial, the parties agreed to settle for the limits of the clinicians’ malpractice insurance.