We recently settled a case involving a physician’s failure to timely diagnose meningitis/ventriculitis resulting in a patient’s brain infection and subsequent death. The patient, a 71-year-old man from Pittsburgh, PA, underwent lumbar surgery and developed altered mental status several days after the surgery. The patient’s condition worsened over the ensuing days prompting an MRI to be performed. The MRI was abnormal and identified findings concerning for infection, including meningitis or ventriculitis. The interpreting radiologist recommended that a lumbar puncture be performed to obtain cerebral spinal fluid and testing for the presence of an infection. However, the attending physician overseeing the patient’s care disagreed that a lumbar puncture was necessary and did not perform it. Days later, the patient, despite developing nuchal rigidity and a worsening, severe headache, which are very ominous signs of a CSF infection, the patient was discharged from the hospital. Within 24 hours, the patient had to be readmitted because his condition deteriorated to the point where he was non-verbal and did not have any purposeful movement of his arms and legs. He was immediately diagnosed with hydrocephalous, septic shock, encephalopathy and acute respiratory insufficiency. Tragically, none of the treatment measures were able to reverse the devastating consequences caused by the delay in diagnosing his spinal fluid infection, ventriculitis.

We filed a lawsuit against the physician and hospital and were successful in demonstrating that a lumbar puncture should have been performed to rule in or rule out the presence of a spinal infection, including ventriculitis or meningitis. The case was vigorously defended but after taking the depositions of the relevant physicians, we were able to convince the hospital to settle the case on favorable terms that our clients were very satisfied with.