After a two week trial in New York State Supreme Court, Nassau County, on October 28, 2014, a jury found that a Pediatrician was negligent and committed medical malpractice in failing to diagnose scoliosis in a young girl. The jury awarded the now 17 year-old Plaintiff $2,200,000 in damages.
The Plaintiff received her pediatric care since birth from a pediatric group located in Garden City. Beginning at age 2, the Plaintiff would receive an annual well child physical examination. That examination would include screening for scoliosis, which is an abnormal curvature of the spine. Pediatricians screen for scoliosis but do not treat scoliosis. The actual diagnosis is made by x-ray, and the treatment and plan of care is by a pediatric orthopedist. Depending on whether the scoliosis is mild, moderate or severe at the time of diagnosis, the treatment can range from observation, to bracing or spinal fusion surgery in severe cases.
The Plaintiff was diagnosed with scoliosis at her 8 and 9 year old annual exams, and it was the Plaintiff’s contention that she was not referred to an orthopedist. The Pediatrician conducted the 10 and 11 year old annual exams, and both failed to diagnose scoliosis or refer the Plaintiff to an orthopedist for evaluation and management of her scoliosis.
Plaintiff’s expert orthopedist testified that Plaintiff should have been referred to an orthopedist, and that she was still within the window period for bracing. Ultimately, the Plaintiff was taken to an orthopedist by her mother when she was 13. Her scoliosis curve was severe, and bracing was no longer available to her at the time of diagnoses. The delay in diagnosis and treatment by the Pediatrician resulted in the need for surgery on her thoracic spine that consisted of spinal fusion with instrumentation from T2 to T12.
The Plaintiff has limitations in activities of daily living as a direct consequence of the spinal fusion. The jury found that the Pediatrician was negligent for failing to refer the Plaintiff to an orthopedist for evaluation and treatment of her scoliosis, and that failure resulted in the need for her surgery and all the associated future complications.
The jury award consisted of $2,000,000 in pain in suffering and $200,000 in medical expenses.