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Medical Verdicts


Was maternal tuberculosis linked to infant brain damage?

August 2003 · Vol. 15, No. 8

<court>New York County (NY) Supreme Court</court>

A pregnant woman diagnosed with tuberculosis was prescribed a course of antibiotics for 3 months. After the patient developed a skin rash at 6 months’ gestation, the medication was discontinued.

Although the neonate appeared normal at birth, at the age of 6 months it developed tuberculosis that led to meningitis, cerebral palsy, and brain encephalopathy.

The mother sued, claiming that the physician did not treat her tuberculosis within the standard of care and that her child, who was 17 years old at trial, was not properly tested for tuberculosis. In addition, she noted that the infant’s medical records contained no mention of her tuberculosis.

The physician argued that the mother may not have had tuberculosis during her pregnancy and claimed that it was acceptable to stop treatment once she developed a rash. The doctor added that the mother took a trip to the Dominican Republic when the child was 4 months old and noted it was likely there that the child contracted the disease.

  • The jury awarded the plaintiff $24.5 million. A posttrial motion was pending.

The cases presented here were compiled by Lewis L. Laska, editor of Medical Malpractice Verdicts, Settlements & Experts. While there are instances when the available information is incomplete, these cases represent the types of clinical situations that typically result in litigation.

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