This medical malpractice case was filed against a pediatrician who treated our client from the time he was born until he was 9 years old. When our client began walking, his mother expressed concern to this pediatrician that her child walked on his toes. She was told that toe walking was normal in a child and not to worry. The defendant doctor assured our client that her son would grow out of it. As time passed, mom regularly complained to the defendant doctor about this issue, but year-after-year was reassured that her son would eventually grow out of it and not to worry. The defendant doctor never made a referral to an orthopedist or neurologist to look for a cause of the toe walking.
At 9 years old, this child’s mother was convinced that there must be something wrong as he was not outgrowing the toe walking. She sought the advice of a pediatric neurologist and a full workup of the child was completed. By the time the second opinion was obtained, the window of opportunity to treat the toe walking with therapy and bracing had closed. As a result of the failure of the pediatrician to take steps to timely diagnose our clients condition, his Achilles tendons had contracted to the point that the only treatment option was tendon lengthening surgery.
The subsequent treating neurologist diagnosed the young man with spastic diplegia. This condition required early intervention with regular physical therapy and stretching to ensure that the tendons and muscles would remain long enough to allow the child to walk flat footed.
Although toe walking is normal in a child under 2 years old, beyond that age a full work up must to be performed to determine the cause of the toe walking and a treatment plan must be developed. Early intervention is critical to insure that children with this condition can walk with a normal gait.
As a result of the pediatrician’s failure to refer our client at age 2 to orthopedics or neurology, this child did not receive early diagnosis and treatment and now faces surgery as his only option.
Our firm aggressively litigated this case until the defendant agreed to a settlement mediation. With the assistance of a PowerPoint presentation that outlined the doctor’s departures from accepted medical practice, the case settled for 1.2 million dollars-- close to the entire insurance policy held by the doctor.